We are seeing the same narrative play out in the world of polling on a daily basis. Polls continue to show Obama leading, not just in Ohio, but in states where most people believe to be in the bag for Romney, such as Florida and Virginia (and even some polls in NC). At the same time, the polls continue to show the partisan turnout to be more favorable to Obama than in 2008, even though he is losing the white vote by historic margins and failing to energize minorities and young voters to the same degree he did 4 years ago.
However, all polls consistently show Romney leading, often by double digits, among Independents. Remember that Bush actually lost Independents by one point nationally in 2004. In other words, these polls don’t compute.
Here are some new examples from today:
CBS/New York Times/Quinnipiac: They polled 3 battleground states and showed Obama leading 50-45 in Ohio, 48-47 in Florida, and 49-47 in Virginia. Even if you buy into the Obama Ohio juggernaut, does anyone really think he’s ahead in Florida?
The devil is always in the details, of course. In Ohio, the party ID was D +8 (Dem 37, Rep 29, Ind 30). It was D+5 in 2008 and R+5 in 2004. Remember that Ohio is a pretty ‘white and senior’ state. The idea of a growing demographic advantage for Democrats doesn’t apply here, even if you subscribe to that theory. Yet, Romney still leads by 6 among Independents. The bottom line is that he can’t be down by 5 overall, but leading by 6 among Independents.
In Florida, the party ID was D +7 (Dem 37, Rep 30, Ind 29). That compares to just D+3 in ’08 and R+4 in ’04. Of all states, Republicans have made the largest gains in registration and ground game in Florida. How can he be losing? The answer is that he’s not. He’s up by 5 among Independents.
In Virginia, party ID is D +8 (Dem 35, Rep 27, Ind 35). It was D+6 in 2008. Early voting already favors Republicans, and while we don’t know the ultimate turnout model, it’s safe to say it won’t match 2008. The Democrat turnout advantage certainly won’t exceed 2008. But here’s the kicker: they have Romney up 21 points among Independents! That’s not a typo. They both cannot be true.
The most absurd poll of the day comes from Survey USA. Their Ohio poll shows Obama leading 48-45. It’s a D+6 sample, yet they show Romney winning Independents by 11 points. There is nobody in the political world who would tell you that you could win the Independent vote by 11 and lose the state. Worse, the poll actually shows Romney edging Obama in crossover appeal. Obama is winning 6% of Republicans, while Romney is winning 8% of Democrats.
Folks, we’ll know in 6 days whether the early voting is the culprit behind the inaccurate polling. However, one thing is certain. Obama cannot lose whites and Independents by historic margins and still eke out a victory. There might be a day in the future when they can win on the backs of minority support alone, but that day has not arrived yet.
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