Nationally, Gallup held fairly steady today, with Romney leading by six among likely voters; Rasmussen has it tied, with data suggesting a small Romney bump is probably on the way. A new Gravis nationwide poll has Romney leading 46-44, despite a D+8 sample. The GOP nominee leads independents by eight points in that survey. PPP's DailyKos/SEIU tracker has Obama up one, thanks to strong youth support. (Romney leads every other age group, and young voters are the least likely cohort to vote this year). But what about those crucial battleground states? Here are quick flashes from around the country:
(1) Iowa - A venerable Hawkeye State politico says the race looks like a virtual dead heat with Obama fractionally ahead, but with Romney gaining. A major signal he's picking up on is the GOP's surprising strength in the early/absentee balloting process, which traditionally benefits Democrats:
Democratic pollster PPP just released a new poll showing Romney pulling into the lead in the state, 49/48.
(2) Ohio - While we're on the subject of early voting, CNN and GOP officials are pointing to a substantial tightening, compared to 2008. John McCain got hammered by 20 points in early voting last cycle, erasing any gains he made on election day itself (when Republican voters tend to turn out most heavily). This ground war is hugely important -- Ohio will almost certainly come down to turnout.
(3) Florida - A new poll reflects the clear trend that Romney is opening up a stable lead in the Sunshine State. The new survey shows Romney cracking the 50 percent ceiling and leading by five points, 51-46. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are holding a joint rally in Daytona Beach this evening.
(4) New Hampshire - The president campaigned in the Granite State yesterday; it's not a mystery while he was there. PPP -- again, a Democratic firm -- puts Romney slightly ahead there in a brand new poll, 49-48. A Suffolk poll last week had the race tied at 47, and ARG's numbers showed a four-point Romney lead.
(5) Pennsylvania - Susquehanna's new numbers show Romney jumping out to a 49-45 lead (!) in the Keystone State in a poll featuring a D+6 sample. I wrote a lengthy analysis of this pollster's methodology and track record in Pennsylvania last week. In short, they're a Republican-aligned firm with a pretty solid reputation for accuracy. That being said, a few major caveats are in order: First, this is a major, major outlier at this point. Yes, Susquehanna was the first pollster to detect the competitiveness of the state (other firms have caught up with their data), but no one has Romney leading in Pennsylvania, let alone by four points. Second, this state has been the ultimate "one that got away" for the GOP over every presidential cycle dating back to 1988.
(6) Virginia - Poll: Romney 50, Obama 47.
Good news for Republicans across the board, but this race remains extremely close. 18 days.