Fox News poll: Angle by three in Nevada, Raese by five in West Virginia

Both leads are within the margin of error but don’t worry about that. The important thing is the tea leaves showing how the races might break over the last month. In Angle’s case, the worry has been that undecideds will tilt towards Reid in the crunch on the theory that the devil you know is preferable to the one you don’t. Not so, if FNC’s numbers are right: Angle’s moved up four points in this poll to lead 49/46 with five percent undecided (or voting other). In the last poll, with 10 percent undecided/other, she was stuck at 45 percent and trailing by a point. In other words, the fencesitters are falling her way even though 53 percent overall say they find her views “too extreme.” (Fully 56 percent say Reid’s been in office too long.)

Nevada will be up in the air until late on election night. Will West Virginia? Dude:

A new Fox News battleground state poll on the race for the seat held by the late Sen. Robert Byrd for 51 years shows Republican businessman John Raese with a 5-point lead over Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin among likely voters — 48 percent to 43 percent.

In what may be the year’s clearest case of Obama’s downward pull on his party’s candidates, Manchin gets high marks from voters – 66 percent approved of his job performance and 65 percent had a positive view of him personally — but they still prefer Raese…

Manchin’s most obvious problem is Obama’s 29 percent approval rating in the state. Only 12 percent believe that Obama’s policies have helped the state economically, while 55 percent in the coal-rich state believe they have hurt. That is borne out in the slim 28 percent of respondents who supported a plan to address global warming like the one Obama favors.

Remember, thanks to Manchin’s remarkable approval rating, this seat was supposed to be a Democratic gimme. As it is, the race has become almost a pure referendum on Obama, with Manchin’s popularity likely the only thing stopping it from turning into a Republican landslide. Raese wins 54 percent of independents and a quarter of Democrats(!) and Fox notes that tea party support is higher in West Virginia than any other state surveyed this week. Which raises the question: Why should anyone believe that Raese’s lead will narrow? All three pollsters to survey this race since last month now show him ahead. If the race really has become a simple exercise in voters registering their disgust with Obama by voting against the Democrat then there’s practically nothing Manchin can do to dent that lead. The race isn’t about him and it isn’t about Raese, and there are no Hopenchange miracles on the way this month to change anyone’s mind about The One. He’s stuck. In fact, have a look at the new NRSC ad below; they understand the dynamics of this race perfectly.

As DrewM notes, what makes West Virginia especially important is that it’s also a special election, which means the winner will be seated for the lame-duck session. Raese’s vote will come in handy if the White House starts to get any funny ideas about, say, immigration or cap-and-trade. Elsewhere in poll news: Fox shows Rob Portman continuing to destroy Lee Fisher and Survey USA and Rasmussen both show Fiorina trailing Boxer in California but within the margin of error. With a 16 percent likelihood of flipping, that’s the longest longshot right now in Nate Silver’s analysis of the 11 most vulnerable Democratic seats; each of the other 10 stand a 25 percent chance or better of breaking Republican and eight of them stand a 50 percent chance or better. West Virginia is currently rated a 37 percent chance to flip, but don’t be surprised to see that crack 50 percent sometime this afternoon.