John Zogby's numbers yesterday showed a 49 percent-to-44 percent margin for Obama, considerably smaller than the one he had a few days earlier.
Against these numbers one must weigh polls in battleground states showing Obama doing just about as well as he has been since the financial crisis hit in mid-September. And the respected Pew Research poll shows Obama out in front by a whopping 53 percent to 39 percent. I'm reluctant to dismiss Pew as an outlier, but if you do, the realclearpolitics.com average of recent polls looks like Obama 49.6 percent, McCain 44.8 percent, a margin of 4.8 percentage points--the smallest Obama margin in RCP averages since September 30.
This sounds plausible to me. Hypothesis: The McCain "Joe the Plumber" high-taxes issue is having some impact. So are doubts, kindled by a typically verbose Joe Biden comment, about how Obama would handle an international crisis. Is this the beginning of a McCain surge? Possibly. It's beginning to look like something more than statistical noise. But it's hard to be sure at this point.
By Michael Barone