Dahlia Lithwick’s article, posted Tuesday night, rested on shaky foundations from the start. She claimed that voters, especially female voters, had turned on Virginia governor Bob McDonnell because of his support for anti-abortion legislation.
She cited two pieces of evidence. First, a July PPP poll showing Obama leading Romney by 8 points in Virginia thanks to a 20-point lead among women. (Among men in that poll, Romney was up 7.) Second–well, it’s a very strange piece of evidence, so let’s let Lithwick introduce it. “Maybe that huge enormous gap in women’s—and particularly young women’s—support for the GOP has nothing to do with the ways in which the McDonnell administration has wasted precious time and energy on a war on women, then cynically called the war on women a smokescreen invented by his opponents.” Follow the link and you’ll see that Lithwick is referring to a national poll that finds that unmarried (not “young”) women favor Obama over Romney by 60-31 percent. Lithwick doesn’t mention it, but single women have tended to favor Democrats by similar margins in the past.
So she’s got, basically, one piece of evidence that’s relevant, barely: the PPP poll. It was an outlier; nobody else had Obama winning Virginia so handily. She offered no evidence that the abortion bill was driving the female preference for Obama, and did not even consider whether some voter groups–married women; men–might like Republicans more as a result of it.
This morning, a new Quinnipiac poll finds that Obama and Romney are tied in Virginia. Obama leads Romney among women by 5, Romney leads among men by 4. It’s always a mistake to build a large thesis on one poll, especially when it’s an outlier.
Quinnipiac, incidentally, has also found McDonnell with a respectable 55 percent approval rating.