The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Watch the Samples in Those Tantalizing State Polls


A Democratic firm, Baydoun/Foster, conducted a poll of Michigan for Detroit’s Fox affiliate and found Mitt Romney within two, 43.6 percent to President Obama’s 45.4 percent.

It’s the sixth poll since June that has put Romney within 2 percentage points or less. Of course, this firm had Romney up 4 in this state in August.

Looking over the numbers, there are a few quirks in the Baydoun/Foster sample. Only 2.7 percent of the respondents were 30 or younger; examining the exit-poll data from 2008, we see that 20 percent of Michigan’s voters were ages 18 to 29. There will probably be some drop-off in the young vote from last cycle to this cycle, but not that much.

Also, there are fewer African-Americans in this sample than we would expect; only 6.7 percent when they made up 12 percent of the vote in 2008. Again, one could expect lower turnout in this demographic, but it’s unlikely it would drop by half.

However, the sample also has a lot more women than you might expect. In 2008, Michigan split 54 percent women to 46 percent men; in this poll, it splits 58 percent women to 42 percent men. Since Republicans do better with men voters than women voters (although the real weakness is among single women voters), it’s possible this sample underestimates Romney’s true level of support.

One wonders, if the poll’s sample under-represents two demographics that favor the president (young voters and African-Americans) but over-represents another that favors him (women), whether the imbalances might create equilibrium.

(UPDATE: Eh, scratch that – I was looking at the numbers of the raw respondents. On the final page of the poll report: “We have included weighted aggregate results for polling study consideration based on underrepresented respondents in four demographic sectors (male respondents, respondents ages 18 to 30 and 31 to 50 and African American respondents). We believe our respondent universe is reflective of voters that are highly aware and interested in participating in the Presidential, US Senate and statewide ballot proposals election.” Having said that, it does provide a fascinating example of which types of people are less likely to be willing to talk to a pollster.)

Overall, Obama looks a little soft in Michigan — usually in the high 40s and ahead of Romney, but a quite modest lead for a president running on his boast that he saved the auto industry.

Tags: Barack Obama , Michigan , Mitt Romney , Polling


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