You'll notice that I've not really spent all that much talking about national polls much less national tracking polls in our electoral college analyses. They are important, but only to a point. I obviously prefer the state level polls -- though the two are linked in some ways -- due to the way the US presidential election is structured. Having said that, Obama crossed over 50% in both the Gallup and Rasmussen tracking polls today. I find that that to be significant for one main reason: typically September polls are better predictors of the ultimate outcome than those released immediately prior to the election.*
Now Democrats, I don't want to get your hopes up. [It has happened before (see 2000 and 2004).] However, if Obama is able to maintain this level of support through the next couple of weeks (And that is far from a sure thing, folks.), regardless of the fluctuations on McCain's side and thus the margins of the race, he theoretically should be looking pretty good for the general election. Again, this is just one facet of the robust polling regime we have at our disposal. If both the national polls (not the tracking polls) and the polls in certain states are also favorable to Obama over this period, then things will be looking up for the Illinois senator.
Starting tonight, though, the Republicans will start having a bigger say in the matter. Still breaking that 50% mark is worth noting.
*James Campbell has used Labor Day polls in his forecasting models in the past. Speaking of forecasting, following the American Political Science Association meeting in Boston this past weekend, most of those models are out. Here is a link to a synopsis of several of them.
Thanks to Paul Gurian via Del Dunn for the forecasting link.
And What About the Green Party?
It's Never as Easy as Taking Away Half the Delegates
The Electoral College Map (8/31/08)