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I don’t take the topline polls seriously. Sure, I read them like everybody else, but the first topline that is going to really matter to me is the one on September 28th, 2 days after the first debate. Because then the data will reflect the opinions of the non-political junkie “regular Americans” who have, for the first time, seen the two candidates together on the same stage, head to head, or more accurately 6’1” to 5’7”.
My reasons for this are legion, but the overwhelming one is that the United States does not vote as a country, we vote as individual states in the Electoral College (except for Nebraska and Maine, which can vote effectually as two different states each in the EC). Therefore, if McCain polls at 99% in Utah, or Obama polls at 99% in New York, it doesn’t move the actual ticker that much.
So, I was very interested when it turns out that Gallup has combined some of their data into “red” “blue” and “purple” states. Gallup defines purple states as ones that neither candidate won by over 6 points in 2004, blue states as ones Kerry won by more than 6, and you can guess at red. They say that currently Obama is polling at 43% to McCain’s 45% in the red states. You can view previous weeks and see that this is a sea change from the previous spreads.
If you’re interested in other Gallup weekly breakouts, you can find them here.(Scroll to the bottom right.)