TIPP got the 2004 almost exactly correct, and now they’re showing a much closer national race than almost every other pollster. They now have Barack Obama ahead of John McCain by only 2, 46.7% to 44.6%. Outlier? Prophets? We’ll see on Tuesday, but if they’re right, two points in particular have to be worrying Team Obama:
The race tightened again Sunday as independents who’d been leaning to Obama shifted to McCain to leave that key group a toss-up. McCain also pulled even in the Midwest, moved back into the lead with men, padded his gains among Protestants and Catholics, and is favored for the first time by high school graduates.
The internals are interesting, but the topline results show two potentially disturbing trends for Obama. First, Obama has never gotten to 50% in the TIPP poll, and now has dropped below 47%. A Democrat hasn’t won 50% of the vote in decades, and Obama may have the same problem John Kerry had in 2004. Related to that is the high level of undecideds. Almost 9% still have not made up their minds about the election, and as I wrote earlier today, that bodes ill for Obama. If he hasn’t made the sale with this group by now, it’s likely that most of them will wind up in McCain’s column on Tuesday.
How do we know this? Independents have begun to break for McCain. McCain now leads 45-43. A week ago, Obama led 43-38 with 19% undecided. The entire 7% that has come out of the undecided column in that period have gone to McCain, and 12% of them still have to make up their minds. Interestingly, slightly more Democrats than Republicans are undecided — not good news for Obama.
If TIPP is right — and at the moment, they’re occupying a lonely spot among national pollsters — then it calls into question the notion that Obama is leading in all of the battleground states. We’ll see who was right on Tuesday.