What’s significant about this latest poll is the MOE — margin of error. Every lead the incumbent has is within the margin of error. The President has not managed to garner a lead in a single battleground state won by Gore in 2000. The challenger, on the other hand, is ahead in at least one 2000 Bush state — New Hampshire, by 5.1% — and is competitive in every battleground state Gore lost in 2000: Florida (-1.2%), Arkanasas (-1.3%), Tennessee (-2.5%), West Virginia (-2.8%), Ohio (-3%), Missouri (-3.1%). The swing state Kerry is furthest behind in is Nevada (-3.9%).
The outcome now depends upon turnout — new voter registration and motivation of the base — and how well each party executes on its ground game.
Here’s the WSJ’s observations:
With two weeks left until Election Day, President Bush posted his best performance since June in key battleground states, according to the latest Zogby Interactive poll.
In the wake of the second and third debates, Mr. Bush now leads in seven of the 16 battleground states, up from the three states he held two weeks ago, in a poll conducted after the first Bush-Kerry contest. But Mr. Bush’s leads in several states — including closely watched Florida — are tenuous, and rival Sen. John Kerry managed to hang on to big, electoral-vote-rich states including Pennsylvania and Michigan.
All of the president’s leads are in the margin of error. Of the nine states in Mr. Kerry’s column, his leads are outside the margin of error in six. The margin of error varies from state to state and ranges between +/- 2.1 and +/- 4.4 percentage points per candidate. The battleground states Mr. Bush leads have a total of 85 electoral votes, while Mr. Kerry’s states have 92.
The latest poll was conducted Oct. 13-18, starting after the end of the third presidential debate, which addressed domestic issues, and also includes the effects of the second debate, a town meeting in St. Louis. Many pundits said Mr. Kerry won the first debate, which focused on foreign policy, but the results of the later debates were more mixed.
The next week should see the incumbent’s numbers remain frozen, barring an October surprise,while the challenger starts gradually moving up in approval, if not in the actual polling . . .
Battlegrounds States Poll – October 19, 2004
Electoral College Analysis