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Published: Thursday, 10/23/2008

Poll: Obama ahead in Big 10 states

MADISON, Wis. Just 12 days away from Election Day, a new poll shows Barack Obama with double-digit leads over John McCain in the crucial upper Midwest states that are home to universities in the Big Ten Conference.

Obama improved from September when the Big Ten Battleground Poll showed him in a dead heat in all of the states but Illinois.

The poll released Thursday showed Obama up 10 points in Indiana, 11 points in Pennsylvania, and 12 points in Ohio. The Democratic presidential nominee is up 13 points in Wisconsin and Iowa, 19 points in Minnesota, and 22 points in Michigan. And in his home state of Illinois, Obama is up 29 points.

In recent weeks half a dozen other polls have shown Obama with a double-digit advantage in Wisconsin and solid leads in Iowa, Pennsylvania and Michigan. Polls have shown a dead heat in Indiana and Ohio, and a slight Obama lead in Minnesota.

With the fundamental factors so to their advantage, this election was always about Barack Obama and the Democrats reaching a threshold level of credibility with voters, said Ken Goldstein, a University of Wisconsin-Madison political science professor and co-director of the poll. It appears Obama has and this race has popped nationally and here in the Big Ten.

The first poll was taken just as the financial crisis first intensified and before Wall Street tanked.

In September, we saw virtually the entire Big Ten as a battleground, said Charles Franklin, a UW-Madison political scientist and co-director of the poll. Now Obama is clearly winning the Big Ten battleground. The dominance of the economy as a top issue for voters is the overwhelming story.

The region s states have been among the most competitive in the country, as they were in 2004, and will help determine who becomes the next president.

The eight states account for 117 electoral votes and both campaigns are spending big money on television advertising and on organizing supporters.

McCain s campaign has been in flux in a couple of the states recently. He pulled out of Michigan early in October and drastically scaled back TV advertising in Wisconsin. Republicans have been placing robocalls and sending direct mailings in Wisconsin and other states.

Obama s current plans don t call for any more visits to Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Wisconsin or any other state that voted for Democrat John Kerry in 2004. Instead he is focusing on states that President Bush won, including Ohio and Indiana.

McCain s current schedule shows his running mate Sarah Palin making stops in Ohio this week with McCain heading to other battleground states including Colorado, Missouri, Iowa and New Mexico.

The poll of between 562 and 586 people in each state is a partnership between universities in the eight Big Ten states. It was conducted Sunday through Wednesday and had a margin of error of 4.2 percentage points.



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