New battleground: New Jersey

Barack Obama has another Atlantic seaboard state slipping away from him.  A new Quinnipiac survey shows Obama losing seven points in a month and declining to a virtual tie in New Jersey.  With New York down to a five-point lead, the traditional Democratic bastions have now come into play in the election, boding ill for Obama in more traditional battleground states:

The contest between Barack Obama and John McCain in New Jersey is too close to call, with a new Quinnipiac University poll showing the battle for the state’s fifteen electoral votes at 48%-45% among likely voters.  Obama led McCain by ten percentage points, 51%-41% in an August Quinnipiac poll.

This is the fourth independent poll within the last week to show New Jersey as an emerging battleground state in the presidential campaign.  A Monmouth University/New Jersey poll released this morning shows Obama leading by 8 points, and a Marist College poll released Friday night had identical numbers to Quinnipiac, 48%-45%. A Fairleigh Dickinson University poll from last week had Obama up by six points. …

In New Jersey, Obama has a 56%-34% favorable rating, while McCain is at 56%-35%.  GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is at 42%-32%, while Joe Biden, the Democratic VP candidate, is at 48%-25%.  Nearly six out of ten New Jersey voters (58%) say McCain’s choice of Palin was a good one, while 59% say Obama made a good pick in Biden.

“In addition to the Palin bounce, Republicans seem to be scoring points with their attacks on the Obama tax plan,” Richards said.

The economy remains the biggest issue in the election in New Jersey, as in most other states.  However, Obama’s edge has narrowed to almost a tie on the economy, edging McCain by only five points, 48-43.  On foreign policy, McCain has a 2-1 advantage over Obama, 64-27.

Democrats carried the Garden State by seven points in 2004.  Seeing a lead within three points at this point in the race means that Obama will have to spend time and money campaigning in a state that should have been a gimme in 2008.  Its 15 Electoral College votes outpaces Virginia’s 13, where Obama hoped to win the Presidency by flipping a red state.  Rasmussen puts this in a tie today, but does the same with Pennsylvania, where Democrats need to retain its 21 EC votes (polls at Real Clear Politics).

Not only is this race tightening, it’s spreading.  Can Obama fight on defense?  The next round of polls should be very telling — and the debates are looking more crucial to both candidates.  However, as Power Line quips today, this isn’t what Obama had in mind when he talked about a 50-state strategy.