The Washington Times - September 16, 2008, 10:55AM

After all the speculation of Democrats’ expanded playing field this year, a new poll suggests John McCain may be the one making inroads.

A Quinnipiac University Poll of New Jersey voters puts McCain within 3 percentage points of Barack Obama, trailing 48-45. A month ago the same poll showed McCain trailing 51-41.

Now it’s not likely McCain wins New Jersey, just as it’s not likely Obama wins Virginia. And the two states are a good comparison — both are quadrennial teases that never turn into the battle pundits think they should.  For example, in 2004 late-season polling showed President Bush competitive with John Kerry in New Jersey, but in the end Kerry won the state 53-46.

Still, that margin was closer than the 9 percentage-point victory Bush won in Virginia — a state that, once again, Democrats and some pundits put in the toss-up category.

Stephen Dinan, national political correspondent, The Washington Times