Rasmussen: Race within margin of error

posted at 11:40 am on October 29, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Rasmussen’s tracking poll shows a significant narrowing of the race with just six days to go before Election Day.  John McCain has closed to within three points of Barack Obama nationwide, within the tracking poll’s margin of error.  This comes as Gallup also shows it a margin-of-error race as of yesterday in its traditional turnout model:

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Wednesday shows Barack Obama attracting 50% of the vote nationwide while John McCain earns 47%. This is the first time McCain has been within three points of Obama in more than a month and the first time his support has topped 46% since September 24….

Prior to today’s update, Obama had been ahead by four-to-eight points every single day for 33 straight days. During that 33-day stretch, Obama’s voter support had stayed between 50% and 52% every day while McCain was in the 44% to 46% range. It will take another day or so to determine whether today’s numbers reflect a lasting change or statistical noise. Two of the last three nights of polling show a closer race than was found in the previous month.

We talked quite a bit about polling at last night’s Talk the Vote event.  All three hosts reminded people that Jimmy Carter led Ronald Reagan with eight days left in the race in 1980 outside the margin of error.  Furthermore, the rising number of refusals — those who refuse to participate in telephone polling — make the predictive value of electoral polling more questionable than ever before.  Michael Medved said that some pollsters report refusal levels as high as 80%.

Given Rasmussen’s consistent methodology and calculations, it gives a reliable trendline for the election.  The gap that had opened after the financial meltdown at the end of September appears to have almost disappeared.  As people begin considering the future, they have to ask themselves: which candidate has the experience and the proven mettle of crisis management?  John McCain has a long record of handling tough problems; Barack Obama wrote a letter and gave a speech.

Today, I’ll talk to IBD’s Terry Jones on the Ed Morrissey Show about their TIPP daily tracking poll, which also shows a margin-of-error race.  We’ll talk at length about polling and its challenges, and what Jones sees as the overall direction of the race.  This isn’t over yet, and it may just be getting interesting now.

Update: Terry Jones was in a serious car accident last night.  He’ll be OK, but he’s obviously in no shape to do a half hour of radio today.  Instead, we’ll talk with IBD’s Monica Showalter on other topics, and wish Terry the best in his recovery.

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