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AP Poll Shows McCain Within One, Gains Among Likely Voters (Cell-Phone Users Included)

2:18 PM, Oct 22, 2008 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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As always, these are polls with margins of error, and this one seems decidedly different from others recently released, but it shows gains with exactly the kind of voters who would find the Joe the Plumber's question, Obama's answer, and McCain's message pertinent:

The presidential race tightened after the final debate, with John McCain gaining among whites and people earning less than $50,000, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll that shows McCain and Barack Obama essentially running even among likely voters in the election homestretch.

The poll, which found Obama at 44 percent and McCain at 43 percent, supports what some Republicans and Democrats privately have said in recent days: that the race narrowed after the third debate as GOP-leaning voters drifted home to their party and McCain's "Joe the plumber" analogy struck a chord.

Three weeks ago, an AP-GfK survey found that Obama had surged to a seven-point lead over McCain, lifted by voters who thought the Democrat was better suited to lead the nation through its sudden economic crisis.

The article offers a thorough perusal of the less McCain-friendly polling numbers of the week, where McCain has taken a dive among all-important likely voters:

Obama and McCain were essentially tied among likely voters in the latest George Washington University Battleground Poll, conducted by Republican strategist Ed Goeas and Democratic pollster Celinda Lake. In other surveys focusing on likely voters, a Washington Post-ABC News poll showed Obama up by 9 percentage points, while a poll by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center had Obama leading by 14. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, among the broader category of people registered to vote, found Obama ahead by 10 points.

An interesting note about the poll's methodology:

A significant number of the interviews were conducted by dialing a randomly selected sample of cell phone numbers, and thus this poll had a chance to reach voters who were excluded from some other polls.

Cell-phone users are supposed to be left-leaning demographic historically missed by pollsters (though the vast unpolled cellular herd has never been vast enough to change the game on Election Day). Why would McCain be gaining in a poll with cell-phone users included, and if he is, isn't it exceedingly promising for the Republican candidate that the numbers are this close? Perhaps they're polling a disproportionate number of "push-to-talk" Nextel users (read: Joe the Plumber and Tito the Construction Worker) and undersampling Sidekick users.

McCain's numbers are lower among registered voters:

The AP-GfK survey included interviews with a large sample of adults including 800 deemed likely to vote. Among all 1,101 adults interviewed, the survey showed Obama ahead 47 percent to 37 percent. He was up by five points among registered voters.