McCain-Palin 2008 lead pollster Bill McInturff led a conference call this morning to respond to the new Washington Post-ABC News national poll showing Barack Obama leading John McCain 52 percent to 43 percent among likely voters.
McInturff suggested that the poll is an "outlier," arguing that the race is "functionally tied."
"It's a margin of error race nationally, and it's a margin of error race in most of the most competitive states," he said. An examination of the data in key states – Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin – showed a tight race and little movement in September, McInturff said.
Particularly for this point in the campaign, he said, the race is "remarkably stable."
McInturff suggested that Obama's lead in the poll could be explained in part by its 16 point party affiliation spread in favor of Democrats, which, he said, was not "at all indicative of what's happening in the campaign." The real party identification spread, he said, was between 4 and 8 points.
"The most important thing in this race is trying to figure out what is party identification," he said, arguing that the Washington Post-ABC News pollsters had come to "way different" conclusions than other pollsters.
"What I know is it's not likely to be minus 16," he said. He also noted that McCain's support has been better than party affiliation numbers.