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Battleground: Polls, Soc. Security, Rove

A Pew poll yesterday found Obama leading McCain by just three points -- 46%-43%. It's a downward trend in the poll for the presumptive Democratic nominee, who led McCain by eight points in June and five in July.

The New York Times checks out how both McCain and Obama seem to be willing to talk about Social Security reform.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is considering softening her stance against additional offshore oil drilling. "One proposal under consideration would let states decide whether to permit new energy exploration off their coasts while possibly maintaining the drilling ban off the Pacific Coast, according to a House leadership aide who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of ongoing negotiations. Pelosi has long opposed lifting the drilling ban but has come under pressure from members of her own party -- including freshmen in tough reelection campaigns -- to allow a vote on offshore drilling. Adding to that, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama recently said that he would be open to limited offshore drilling if it was part of a broader energy compromise."

Karl Rove identifies his four key battleground states: Virginia, Colorado, Ohio, and Michigan. He believes Obama's best chance out of Virginia and Colorado is Colorado. "Denver hosts the Democratic convention at the end of this month. And a quartet of local millionaires (mini-George Soroses) have spent lavishly to boost Democrats. They have succeeded at shrinking the Republican advantage among registered voters. The GOP now has just 68,507 more voters on the rolls in Colorado than Democrats, down from a 176,572 edge four years ago."

FLORIDA: "Here's the math. Since the start of the general-election season, Obama has dropped $6.51 million -- a full 18 percent of his overall ad spending, and by the largest chunk of change allotted to any one state -- to broadcast 10,000 commercials on Florida television," Newsweek's Romano writes. "McCain's total disbursement? $0, zero ads. Meanwhile, Chicago has sent more than 200 full-time staffers and signed up at least 150,000 online volunteers to man the state's 35 field offices--the most of any battleground. McCain's local staff is a quarter of the size, and much of it is shared with the state party."
MICHIGAN: McCain touted Michigan's importance in November, telling voters near Detroit that he'd come to "a swing county in a swing state, so let's have no doubt that this will be a battleground state."

MONTANA: The NRA called Obama "a poster child of the extremist, elitist gun control movement." Chris Cox of the NRA added, per the AP, "We are going to make sure that anybody that tells Montana gun owners that Barack Obama is not a threat to gun owners is exposed as someone who is not shooting straight." The group says it "plans to spend $40 million nationally this campaign season, and has yet to determine how much will be spent in individual states."
"The group was responding to recent remarks by Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat who supports gun rights and told reporters this week that Obama 'ain't ever going to take your gun away.' Schweitzer, who has the NRA's support in his re-election bid, added that there is little difference between the Democrat and Republican John McCain."
Yet, a poll out yesterday showed McCain underperforming with hunters. The presumptive Republican nominee led Obama by 14 points in a Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation poll, but Bush led Kerry by 27 points with the group. Another example of McCain underperforming? (Also see white men and evangelicals.)

NEVADA: The Washington Post looks at the troubles plaguing the NV GOP (led by the scandal-ridden governor).

NORTH CAROLINA: Obama's state organizers in North Carolina -- joined by Gov. Mike Easley -- made their pitch for a victory strategy on a reporter conference call yesterday.  The campaign said that it has already spent over $2 million on TV ads in the Tar Heel State. 
PENNSYLVANIA: The LA Times: "Obama, McCain and the Republican National Committee have spent $10.3 million blanketing Pennsylvania with general-election ads, the most spent in any state, according to a July 30 analysis by the University of Wisconsin Advertising Project." Of course, Philadelphia is an expensive market, as its the fourth largest in the country.
WISCONSIN: A Wisconsin paper offers a good contrast of the Obama campaign's bottom-up approach to the grassroots, versus the McCain campaign's deployment of existing party infrastructure in the state.