TIME FOR 11TH-HOUR PANIC?

TIME FOR 11TH-HOUR PANIC? The Pew Research Center for People and the Press released a new poll yesterday that showed the Democrats' national lead over Republicans has been cut in half in the campaign's waning days. Two weeks ago, Pew found Democrats with an 11-point generic-ballot lead, 50 percent to 39 percent. Yesterday's poll showed the margin down to just four points, 47 percent to 43 percent.

Understandably, this is causing some, shall we say, consternation among some political observers who hope to see Democrats excel tomorrow. With this in mind, it's probably worth noting that there is at least as much evidence that the national trend is working against the GOP as there is of the opposite. Consider the five national polls conducted and released over the last six days:

* CNN (11/3 - 11-5) -- Democrats lead Republicans by 20 points, 58 percent to 38 percent.

* Newsweek (11/2 - 11-3) -- Democrats had a 16-point lead, 54 percent to 38 percent.

* Time (11/1 - 11-3) -- Democrats were ahead, 55 percent to 40 percent.

* Post/ABC (11/1 - 11-4) -- Democrats saw their lead shrink to six, 51 percent to 45 percent.

* Pew Research Center (11/1 - 11-4) -- Republicans and Democrats were neck and neck, with Democrats ahead 47 percent to 43 percent.

A late-breaking shift in the GOP's direction, or a strong, stable lead for Democrats going into Election Day? It depends on whom you believe, but there appears to be more evidence for the latter.

--Steve Benen, The Carpetbagger Report

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