There's a good reason why I set my alarm for 2:45 this morning (and even then, I still actually wasn't able to pull myself out of bed until close to 4:00). That's because pollster John Zogby was releasing his new Super Tuesday tracking polls overnight, and what we saw, at least for supporters of Barack Obama, was better than anything we could have imagined.
Zogby's latest polls show the race between Obama and Clinton as close as it comes, and for the first time in a major poll, Obama leads in California (and outside the margin of error to boot), has a gigantic lead in Georgia, and is within a hair in Missouri and New Jersey, the former a key battleground and "swing" state not just in the general election but in this primary race, the latter being Clinton's de-facto home turf.
"It looks like we have some serious horse races going on with Clinton and Obama," said pollster John Zogby said. "However it turns out, we can be pretty sure it is too close to be resolved on Tuesday."
Obama, an Illinois senator who would be the first black U.S. president, has a comfortable 20-point lead in Georgia fueled by a more than 3-to-1 advantage over Clinton among black voters.
In California, the poll found Obama led Clinton by 45 percent to 41 percent, with a margin of error of 2.9 percentage points. Clinton held statistically insignificant 1-point leads on Obama in New Jersey and Missouri, well within the margin of error of 3.4 percentage points in both surveys.
If Obama has a chance to grab California (and remember, he has a rally scheduled for today with his wife Michelle, Caroline Kennedy, and Oprah, really going for the women's vote to try to pull even closer to, or further ahead of, Clinton) you almost wish he wasn't spending the last days before Super Tuesday on the East Coast. After spending Saturday in Idaho, Minnesota, and Missouri, Obama spends Sunday in Delaware, and Monday in New Jersey and Massachusetts, where he ends his Super Tuesday campaigning with an 8:00 rally in Boston with Senators John Kerry and Ted Kennedy and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. You almost wish he could get to California one last time, and a red-eye flight out there for some quick appearances on the day of Super Tuesday, which while exhausting and taxing, may just put him over the edge in that state, and may win him the nomination, no matter how the delegates turn out. And if Obama can win in New Jersey? That's a devastating blow to Clinton as well.
Obama supporters, though, also need to not take anything for granted. Clinton padded her lead by 4 points in the latest Gallup national tracking poll, and she added 2 points in Rasmussen's latest numbers. Rasmussen also has Clinton leading in most Super Tuesday states including Alabama (a close to must-win for Obama), Arizona (a brand new poll shows her up only 5 in the state), California (3 points but almost a week old at this point, a lifetime in politics), Massachusetts, Missouri (where Obama has halved an 18 point lead in only a week), New Jersey, New York, and Tennessee. So, even with Zogby's numbers, this is still an uphill fight. But, I'm feeling much better than I did when my alarm went off in the middle of the night, and it's not just because now that I looked at the numbers and wrote this blog entry, I can get back to bed for a few hours before my Bar Review class Sunday.