It's another confusing day at the polls. McCain's position improved in three states today, but Obama gets good news in a couple of national numbers.
In Michigan, Public Policy Polling shows Barack Obama with a 3 point lead; he had led by 9 in PPP's only prior poll of the state in June. This mirrors the recent Quinnipiac result which had also shown Obama's lead contracting, although Rasmussen and EPIC-MRA had shown the race moving toward Obama. Thanks to investments by the RNC, the McCain team has been winning the air war in Michigan, and that may be having some effect. At the same time, however, while Obama's lead is not large, he does hold the lead, and this latest number may only increase the incentive for McCain to ask Mitt Romney to join him on the ticket.
McCain has also gained ground in a couple of red states. In Mississippi, McCain now holds a 12-point lead according to Rasmussen. This is up from 6 points last month. However, our regression model had not been convinced that Mississippi was really a single-digit race to begin with. In Nebraska, meanwhile, McCain leads by 19 -- up slightly from 16 points last month. As most readers of this blog probably know, Nebraska awards some of its electoral votes by congressional district, and Obama has sometimes been competitive in NE-2 in Omaha, and NE-1 in Lincoln and the eastern part of the state. Rasmussen does not break its results out by congressional district, but generally speaking, Obama is going to need to be within 8, 10, maybe 12 points statewide to have a shot at picking up an electoral vote or two. That is now looking somewhat out of reach for him.
A pair of national polls, however, offer a different perspective about the momentum in the race. CNN shows Obama ahead by 7 points -- that is up from 5 points last month and the largest lead Obama has held in a CNN poll since February. And the weekly Economist/YouGov poll also shows Obama up by 7, up from 3 points last week, and representing the largest lead he has held in this poll since February 12.