Under Five Weeks to Go

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Most of the latest polling now gives Obama the edge in Florida, which just a few weeks ago looked as if it were out of reach for him. We have the rundown on those polls at TPM Election Central.

It’s a good time to take step back and assess where we are. Florida in and of itself is a huge prize, but it’s also indicative of the larger shift in the race toward Obama in the last couple of weeks. For me, it’s easier to see this graphically and helps me to distinguish the usual poll noise from decisive movements in public opinion.

Take a look at the Pollster.com running average of national polls and you can clearly see Obama begin to break away in the middle of September (click for larger version):

Looking at Real Clear Politics‘ running state by state polling average, Obama has a larger lead in electoral votes that at any time in the last three months. (Since that was about the time he captured the nomination, I take it to mean he’s running stronger now that at any point in the race):

A note of caution: This shift has happened fairly quickly, over a matter of just two weeks. The election is still five weeks away. As a leading union backer of Obama points out in an interview we just posted at TPM Election Central, there remains a great deal of volatility in this race, with a larger than usual pool of what he calls “persuadable” voters in battleground states.

The two most likely outcomes as I see it are either a narrow McCain win or a decisive Obama win, which is predicated on the assumption that the undecideds/persuadables will break one way or the other en masse. Then again, I have to confess that virtually nothing about this election cycle has gone as I expected.

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