I wanted to take a moment to flag some key points this morning about the polls and the state of the race.
Rather than interpret or predict, I’ll stick to flagging key points. Join me after the jump.
First, we have out this morning one of only three “premium” national polls out since the first presidential debate. NBC/WSJ has the race tied at 47% among likely voters. Among registered voters the margin is Obama 49%, Romney 44%. It’s tempting to read a lot into that divergence. But the one thing that you can certainly read into it is that turnout, ground game and voter enthusiasm are going to be hugely important.
This new poll plus another out this morning from UPI put the PollTracker Average for the national horserace at Romney +.8.
After a few days of a very slight aggregate tracking poll trend in Obama’s favor, today’s numbers seem to be moving in the opposite direction. But in both directions, it seems like the definition of statistical noise.
Now let’s go to the electoral college. The TPM Electoral Scoreboard currently stands at Obama 259, Romney 199.
But again, let’s look beneath the topline number. There are currently 80 electoral votes in the Toss Up category. Ohio, Colorado, Virginia, Florida and Arizona.
Our electoral scoreboard is driving solely by public polls, not history or ‘fundamentals’. In this case, Arizona is in the Toss Up category because it’s been lightly polled and the most recent survey had Obama with a small lead. But that really seems like an outlier. So let’s assume that Arizona is in Romney’s camp. That leaves us with 69 electoral votes in the Toss Up category.
The actual margins in those states are …
Ohio Obama +1.4
Colorado Obama +.4
Florida Romney +1.2
Virginia Romney +1.9
Needless to say, it’s very close no matter how you slice it. The advantage for President Obama is that Romney more or less needs to run the table of the remaining Toss Up states to win. At this point, though, that could definitely happen.
For more context, here are the trendlines in the three key states …
Perhaps the best way to cut through all the noise and details is to say that, as we could have predicted a year ago, if Obama wins Ohio he wins the election. If Romney wins Ohio, the logic isn’t quite as clear in the opposite direction. But it gets awfully tight.
Late Update: Since writing this post, Gallup has released its daily tracking poll with Romney +7, IBD/TIPP has released its tracker with Obama +5.7.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.