The RealClearPolitics poll averages now have McCain leading Obama by 0.7% nationally, by just over 2% in Pennsylvania, by 7% in Ohio, and by just under 7% in Florida. And a good number of the polls they average were taken before Obama’s pastor problem really gained prominence.
State polls this early tell us little, and it won’t last, to be sure. This will be an election year of ups and downs for all. But not long ago it seemed likely to be an election year of just downs for Republicans, so these numbers — coming at a time when the economy is the big story of the moment, and is a difficult story in Ohio and Pennsylvania especially — must certainly give Republicans hope, and must make the Democrats a little jittery as they advance toward an Obama candidacy.
(Hillary Clinton, by the way, is behind by the same small margin nationally, but is outpolling Obama against McCain by significant margins in Pennsylvania, Florida, and Ohio — in fact in Ohio, where Obama is behind McCain by 7, Hillary is slightly ahead of McCain.)