Polling out of Iowa produces mixed results, Wisconsin's tight, and a neck-and-neck race nationally, but maybe there's a better question. Here's our guide to today's polls and why they matter.

Findings: Iowa has a mixed bag of polling today: in a poll from NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist Obama leads by six points, but in a Rasmussen poll Romney's up by one point.
Pollsters: NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist, Rasmussen
Methodology: For NBC/WSJ/Marist: Landline and cell phone poll of 1,142 likely voters October 28 through 29. For Rasmussen: Automated poll of 750 likely voters October 30.
Why it matters: These polls show two conflicting results in Iowa, one in which Obama has a comfortable lead, another where Romney moves a point ahead. Nate Silver wrote today that "Obama continues to hold the lead in the vast majority of polls in Iowa, Nevada, Ohio and Wisconsin, the states that represent his path of least resistance toward winning the Electoral College." He said this was "particularly apparent on Wednesday."
Caveat: Rasmussen has a Republican lean and Obama's up by only two in the Real Clear Politics Average.


Findings: Obama's up by three in Wisconsin in an NBC/WSJ/Marist poll, but the two candidates are tied in a Rasmussen poll of the state.
Pollsters: NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist, Rasmussen
Methodology: For NBC/WSJ/Marist: Landline and cell phone poll of 1,065 likely voters October 28 through 29. For Rasmussen: Automated poll of 750 likely voters October 29.
Why it matters: Just yesterday a poll in Wisconsin put Obama up by eight. Today we see indication of a much closer race.
Caveat: Rasmussen leans Republican.


Findings: Obama leads by one point in the ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll.
Pollster: ABC News/Washington Post
Methodology: Poll of 1,293 likely voters October 28 through 31.
Why it matters: This race is a true toss-up. Jon Cohen at the Washington Post writes that: "In addition to two numerical ties across the tracking poll, on two other occasions, including this release, there was less than 10/100th of a percentage point of difference."
Caveat: Some food for thought: a study, which David Leonhardt analyzes in the New York Times, has found that polls which ask people who they expected to win "have been a better guide to the outcome of the presidential race than questions asking people whom they planned to vote for." He adds, "In the last three weeks, polls — including by ABC/Washington Post, Gallup, Politico/George Washington University and Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS — have consistently found that more Americans expect President Obama to win than expect Mr. Romney to win." In what is perhaps another upside for Obama, Ezra Klein tweets: "Remember when, last week, Romney had polling momentum? He's lost ground since then."