Obama takes lead in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania

The following is an excerpt from an Associated Press filing found here:

Recently trailing or tied, Democrat Barack Obama now leads Republican John McCain in a trio of the most critical, vote-rich states five weeks before the election, according to presidential poll results released Wednesday.

The Democrat’s support jumped to 50 percent or above in Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania in Quinnipiac University surveys taken during the weekend — after the opening presidential debate and during Monday’s dramatic stock market plunge as the House rejected a $700 billion financial bailout plan.

Combined, these states offer 68 of the 270 electoral votes needed for victory on Election Day, Nov. 4.

Pollsters attributed Obama’s improved standing to the public’s general approval of his debate performance, antipathy toward GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin and heightened confidence in the Illinois senator’s ability to handle the economic crisis.

The fresh polling is the latest troublesome turn for McCain, the Arizona senator who is trying to regain control of the campaign conversation amid increasingly difficult circumstances for Republicans. It comes on the eve of a debate between Palin and her Democratic counterpart, Joe Biden, and as the financial crisis shapes the presidential race in unpredictable ways.

For now and probably for the next month, the race will be entirely about who can best handle an economy in peril.

The war in Iraq, national security and foreign policy issues — McCain’s strengths — have largely fallen by the wayside as each campaign tries to chart a course to the presidency in extraordinarily choppy economic waters.

The new surveys show Obama leading McCain in Florida 51 percent to 43 percent, in Ohio 50 percent to 42 percent and in Pennsylvania 54 percent to 39 percent.

Since 1960, no president has been elected without winning two of those three states.

The results are notable because they show Obama in a strong position in the pair of states that put Bush in the White House in 2000 and kept him there four years later — Florida and Ohio, with 27 and 20 electoral votes, respectively.

Star Tribune Reports: Georgia edges USC for preseason No. 1

I found the following article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune today: (here)

Georgia edges USC for preseason No. 1

Last update: August 1, 2008 – 7:30 PM

Georgia argued — unsuccessfully — that it deserved a chance to play for the national championship last season. If the coaches who vote in the USA Today poll are correct, the Bulldogs will win that argument come January.

Coming off an 11-2 season that included a 41-10 thrashing of Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl and returning 17 starters, Georgia was selected as the No. 1 team in the USA Today preseason coaches poll released Friday. The Bulldogs received 22 first-place votes and 1,438 points to edge Southern California for the top spot. The Trojans had 14 No. 1 votes and 1,430 points.

“Being No. 1 in the coaches’ preseason poll does have significance, since it’s one-third of the formula to decide who plays in the national championship game,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said in a news release. “But the postseason poll is the one that is the most important.”

Ohio State, which lost to LSU and Florida in the past two BCS championship games, is ranked third. Oklahoma and Florida round out the top five.

LSU is ranked sixth, giving the SEC three of the top six. Missouri, West Virginia, Clemson and Texas complete the top 10.

The Big Ten has four other teams in the top 25 — Wisconsin at No. 12, Illinois at No. 19, Penn State at No. 22 and Michigan at No. 24.

To reach the BCS title game, Georgia will have to navigate a schedule that includes games against No. 5 Florida, No. 6 LSU, No. 11 Auburn, No. 16 Arizona State and No. 18 Tennessee.

Southern Cal and Ohio State will quickly find out if they are national title contenders. They meet Sept. 13 in Los Angeles.

The Associated Press poll will debut Aug. 16.