How can Obama win all big states and still be barely up in national polls?

Let’s completely ignore the electoral college and talk solely about the popular vote in polls.

National polls (from several sources) mostly all agree Obama is up about 5-8 points over McCain. I’ve seen no reputable pollster show a margin above that.

On the other hand, those exact same pollsters all agree Obama is up huge (15-20 points) in most of the big states (California, New York, Illinois), and up by 5-10 points in most of the medium-to-big states (Pennsylvania, Flordia, Ohio, Michigan, New Jersey, etc). Sure, McCain wins with big margins in a lot of small states but Obama cancels that out with big wins in lots of small states of his own. The only big state that McCain carries by a large margin is Texas, but California alone more than offsets that.
NC, VA, and MO seem to be split evenly (many polls even show Obama ahead) so they don’t affect the total.

So – given Obama’s huge leads in big states, how can the national average be as close as it is? I could understand it being even if Obama were just barely winning the big states and McCain were hugely winning the little states. But with Obama winning such huge margins in CA, NY, IL, and beating the national average in so many medium states, where are all of McCain’s supporters coming from? There can’t be enough people in ND, SD, NE, KA, etc to cancel out the larger states, can there?

State polls do not add up to national polls, and I’ve heard from professional pollsters that state results, for whatever reason, lag a week or two behind national ones.

Also, McCain isn’t carrying Texas by a large margin, he’s up 9 points. He is up by a lot in KY, LA, TN, AL, UT, ID, WY, OK, NE, KS, SC, SD, AZ, AK, and arguably ND.

The top 10 states only add up to 54% of the population. And Obama doesn’t have a big lead in many of them. Obama’s lead in the 10 largest states, using numbers from, are:

CA +16
TX -19
NY +21
FL +4
IL +14
PA +12
OH +3
MI +16
GA -6
NC -1

You don’t call +21 a big lead?

But he said “doesn’t have a big lead in many of them,” not “all of them.”

New York is easily his biggest lead in any large state. The OP asserts Obama is “up huge” in “most of the big states.” He plainly is not; he has the OP’s claimed lead of 16 or more points in three states, not “most big states.”

If you actually went through every state, added up the relative leads, and adjusted for population, I guarantee the end result would approximate the national polls.

He said Obama doesn’t have a big lead in many of them.

Actually he has a big lead ( double digits ) in half of them. But he is trailing badly in the second biggest and has slight leads or is trailing in the other four.

ETA: RickJay beat me, but I’d add that I imagine that +16 in CA is probably not too far off +21 in NY.

Oops. Misread “many” as “any.”

Carry on.

I’m curious about why Obama isn’t doing so well in Mississippi and Alabama. They’re states with a very large black population, who I assume will be largely behind Obama. I know blacks don’t always vote as a block, but I just can’t imagine there being many McCain supporters among them. For McCain to be getting the numbers he’s getting in the deep South, the only thing I can think of is that 80% or of all whites are solid yellow-dog republicans. Even in very Republican, ethnically homogeneous states like Utah, Iowa and Wyoming, Dems make up far more than 20% of the population.

As for NC turning blue, IMHO it’s thanks to Rust Belt transplants. Mecklenberg County is essentially a far southern suburb of Buffalo, and Raleigh is filled with Rochesterians.

Obama has a huge lead among African-Americans – true.

Mississippi and Alabama have a large number of African-Americans – true.

However, even in Mississippi and Alabama, the African-Americans are still a minority, and the whites in those two states are among the most conservative in the whole USA, so in general they overpower the votes of the AAs.