In Maryland gay marriage looks like it will be a go, the Democrat is up in the senate race for Ohio, and Romney takes a seven-point Gallup lead. Here's our guide to today's polls and why they matter.
Findings: Based on a Washington Post poll likely voters in Maryland seem on their way to legalizing same-sex marriage: 52 percent in support of the ballot question and 43 percent opposing.
Pollster: Washington Post with sampling, data collection and tabulation by Abt SRBI, Inc.
Methodology: Telephone poll of 843 likely voters in Maryland October 11 through 15 with a margin of error of +/-4 percentage points.
Why it matters: Gay marriage hasn't yet been legalized by popular vote, meaning Maryland seems on its path to becoming historic. Same-sex marriage is also on the ballot in Maine and Washington. In Minnesota there is a question asking voters about a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Now with DOMA struck down it could be a big year for gay marriage.
Caveat: It's not a done deal. John Wagner, Aaron C. Davis and Peyton Craighill of the Washington Post reported: "Historically, opposition to same-sex marriage at the ballot box has been stronger than polls suggested, and an expected ad blitz from opponents in Maryland has barely begun."
Findings: Democrat Sherrod Brown is up by five points in Ohio against Republican Josh Mandel.
Methodology: Cell phone and home-phone survey of 613 votes who "had either already returned a ballot or were determined by SurveyUSA to be likely to do so before Election Day" October 12 through 15 with a margin of error of +/-4 percent.
Why it matters: David Catanese and Manu Raju at Politico today reported on the Republicans' grim prospects for the Senate, explaining: "Insiders in both parties put the chances of a GOP Senate takeover at less than 50-50." In Ohio, the Democrat is up.
Caveat: As Catanese and Raju say: "Make no mistake — there will be a batch of conservative senators crowned on Nov. 6, and some GOP candidates struggling in red states against strong Democrats might well pull through." In polls out today from Nevada incumbent Republican Dean Heller is holding on, but in one his lead grew slimmer. Meanwhile, in Connecticut, where Republican Linda McMahon has a chance of claiming the seat, a poll today puts the Democratic Chris Murphy up by six. All that said, Nate Silver recently pointed out that good news for Romney in the polls is good news for Republicans in the Senate: "If he wins the Electoral College, they would be able to control the Senate with a net gain of three seats since the new vice president, Paul D. Ryan, would then cast the tiebreaking vote."
Findings: Gallup has once again widened Romney's lead: now he's up by 7.
Methodology: Daily tracking of likely voters.
Why it matters: Gallup right now is Romney's greatest hope and Obama's greatest nightmare. In this poll Romney is "well outside the margin of error," according to Grace Wyler of Business Insider. So time to panic for Obama? Well, our Elspeth Reeve says "maybe." He's also down by one point among registered voters, but she notes that polling experts aren't floored by the numbers. That said, the campaign is also clearly "scaling back their electoral map ambitions."
Caveat: It still doesn't include a lot of post debate data, and Wyler pointed out good news for Obama: "Thursday's results show Obama's job approval rating is up by one point, and now stands at the 50 percent threshold believed necessary for an incumbent to be considered "safe" for re-election." Also, looking at Real Clear Politics' average: Romney is only up by one percentage point.