As the race for the White House enters its final days, the newest Big Ten Battleground Poll shows Barack Obama holds significant leads over John McCain in the eight-state Big Ten region. The poll shows Obama ahead in every Big Ten state, including Indiana, where McCain held a slight edge in September, and Ohio and Pennsylvania, where last month's poll results showed the two candidates in a dead heat.
The states included in the poll were Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota, home to the 11 universities in the Big Ten conference.
Those states were key battlegrounds in the 2004 election, and last month the Big Ten Battleground Poll showed a tight race in all of those states but Illinois, which Obama represents in the U.S. Senate. The first poll was taken just as the U.S. financial crisis first intensified and before the massive decline in the stock market, when McCain was enjoying his highest poll numbers of the campaign in the Big Ten and nationally.
The individual surveys of between 562 and 586 randomly selected registered voters and those likely to register to vote before the election in each of the states were conducted by phone with live interviewers from Oct. 19-22 and were co-directed by University of Wisconsin-Madison political scientists Charles Franklin and Ken Goldstein with the cooperation of colleagues from participating Big Ten universities. The polls each have a margin of error of 4.2 percentage points.
"In September, we saw virtually the entire Big Ten as a battleground," said Franklin, co-developer of Pollster.com. "Now Obama is clearly winning the Big Ten battleground. The dominance of the economy as a top issue for voters is the overwhelming story."
Big Ten Battleground Poll head-to-head results for individual states:
Illinois - Obama 61%, McCain 32% N=572
Indiana - Obama 51%, McCain 41% N=586
Iowa - Obama 52%, McCain 39% N=586
Ohio - Obama 53%, McCain 41% N=564
Michigan - Obama 58%, McCain 36% N=562
Minnesota - Obama 57%, McCain 38% N=583
Pennsylvania - Obama 52%, McCain 41%, N=566
Wisconsin - Obama 53%, McCain 40% N=584
The poll also included a nationally representative sample of 1,014 respondents, with a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points. That survey shows Obama with a 9-point margin over McCain, 52 percent to 43 percent.
"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 Goldstein, a UW-Madison political science professor. "It appears Obama has and this race has popped nationally and here in the Big Ten."
The sample of registered voters and those likely to register to vote before the 2008 Presidential election for the state and national surveys was selected by random digit dialing (RDD) of landline phones. Cell-only households were not included in the sample.
The results of this rare regional poll - a partnership involving eight Big Ten universities - will be featured during a 90-minute show called Big Ten Battleground: Campaign 2008, which airs at 4 p.m. EDT today (Oct. 23) on the Big Ten Network.
Universities participating in the partnership are the University of Illinois, the University of Iowa, the University of Michigan, MichiganState University, Northwestern University, Ohio State University, Penn State University and UW-Madison. Michael Berkman, professor of political science, is the Penn State researcher participating in the poll.
For more details about the poll, its methodology, the show and a list of poll contacts at each of the participating universities, visit