10 Days: Five of seven battleground states move toward Obama… barely.

The trackers are mixed today and so there’s not much of a story there. Romney gained with PPP, Gallup, and UPI/CVOTER, Obama gained with RAND, Ipsos/Reuters, and IBD/TIPP, and neither Rasmussen or ABC/Washington Post moved at all. The average movement across eight national trackers was a whopping 0.13 points towards Barack Obama.

There were no non-tracking national polls today. At all. None.

So all that leaves are state polls, of which there were 13 yesterday and at least 10 more today that I could find. I’ve created two more spreadsheets to make sense of that data. Here are all the new state polls of the last two days that I could find, by day. And remember, these are all battleground states:

Here’s another, a tracker, showing the average lead of the… well, leading candidate, in each of those states as an average of the most recent five polls, by day:

The first image/spreadsheet isn’t so useful for knowing where the race is going so much as it gives you a clean snapshot of where the state just was, and where it is right now. The second image, through the average, will give you a good idea of where the state is going to be in the next few days.

Because there aren’t new polls of every state every day, the average won’t always change. That doesn’t mean that the state hasn’t changed, though. It means that nobody knows if it has.

That said, the movement in the last few days favors Barack Obama in most key battleground states. Obama is up quite a bit in Colorado the past few days, up in New Hampshire and Ohio. Obama has gained on Romney a little bit in Florida and North Carolina, and Virginia is still… a maddening tie.

I’d be the first to admit that a ~2 point lead is small and can easily evaporate, but the odds of that happening decrease significantly with the time left before the election. A ~2 point lead today isn’t nearly as impressive as it will be two days before the election. So what you should take away from that second image is the obvious. It’s better to be losing by a little than losing by a lot, better to be tied than losing, better to be winning by a little than tied, and it’s awesome to be leading by a lot. And the non-rhetorical part: every day that those numbers don’t change in your favor is a day that lead gets bigger, even if it’s the same as it was yesterday.

It’s no different than sports. Being down 6-4 in baseball with half the game left is no big deal. Being down 6-4 with five minutes left in the game is huge. It takes time to move polls and the less time you have, the less movement you’ll get from a change in the race. It’s why they don’t have debates two days before the election.

I agree with what I’ve seen from other pundits and analysts. The entertainment portion of this contest, the debates and conventions, are over. And so are wild swings in the polls. I doubt things are going to change much between now and the election and I think Nate Silver’s models have been prescient all along. Obama will win the electoral college narrowly, but not on a razor blade. He’ll probably win the popular vote by about 2%.

What I said yesterday, that Obama should hit or exceed 75% to win by election day was probably too conservative, as Nate already has him up to 74.4% on the polling I illustrated above.

If there’s ever a justifiable time to start getting scared, it’s right now. I think it extremely likely that the national polls and trackers will remain deadlocked. Even the ones that will end up wrong on election night will be within the margin of error, and so understandable.

Except Gallup.

Gallup is in for another embarrassment.

Paul Tenny

Paul Tenny

I'm not a journalist but I do it anyway. I cover elections and have interviewed television writers and producers.
Paul Tenny

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