To read the new polling data released today, the race is tied or Bush is in the lead. Take your pick.
Incremental changes in two Rasmussen battleground polls today give George Bush a shallow lead in Florida and Pennsylvania. The Republican margin in both states is only 1 percent, hardly a commanding lead, but significant particularly in the case of Pennsylvania, where Kerry was previously thought to hold a slim margin. While neither of these polls is evidence of a major shift, they ought to produce a few sweaty palms in the Kerry campaign: Were Bush to take Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio -- a cumulative 68 electoral votes -- the race wouldn't even be close.
Depending on which pollster you're talking to, the uber-battleground state Ohio is either a blowout or a nailbiter. According to a Strategic Vision poll released today, Bush leads by 12. But according to a Rasmussen poll conducted only days before, Bush and Kerry are tied at 47 percent.
Democrats get some good news in an Investor's Business Daily poll -- which says Bush's post-convention edge has totally disappeared, and Nader will have no effect on the race. Among likely voters, IBD finds both candidates are tied at 47 percent in a two-way matchup, and at 46 percent in a three way race. And among all registered voters (a larger category than likely voters), Kerry leads by two.
That said, IBD sees one concern for John Kerry: His supporters still aren't crazy about him. The poll asked committed Bush and Kerry supporters to rate the "intensity" of their backing (which traditionally correlates with voter turnout), and found that "the president has consistently drawn stronger support from his supporters than Sen. Kerry. IBD's poll shows Bush's intensity numbers are 25 percentage points above Kerry's 60 percent."
Less encouraging for Democrats than the IBD survey is an International Communications Research poll showing Bush up seven among likely voters, and four among registered voters.