The Corner

Swing-State Polls Give Obama Lead, But Have Skewed Samples

The Quinnipiac University/ CBS News/New York Times poll of Florida likely voters finds Barack Obama ahead by six points, 51 percent to Mitt Romney’s 44 percent. 

However, if you look at the internals of the poll, the sample’s weighted percentages are 27 percent Republican, 36 percent Democrat, and 32 percent independent. That’s a little different from who actually voted in the 2008 Florida presidential election: According to exit polls, 37 percent of Florida voters were Democrats, 34 percent were Republicans, and 29 percent were independents or third-party. 

In Ohio, the poll results showed Obama at 50 percent support and Romney at 44 percent. In this case, the internals showed the sample being 27 percent Republican and 35 percent Democrat — an 8-point gap, but this time one that might be justifiable. Ohio exit polls in 2008 showed that 39 percent of voters were Democrats and 31 percent Republicans — although, of course, Democrat enthusiasm was high in 2008, while Republican enthusiasm was not. It’s the same story in Pennsylvania (results: Obama 53 percent, Romney 42 percent): Democrats have a 6-point advantage, according to the poll internals (38 percent Democrat, 32 percent Republican), but in 2008 exit polls, Democrats had a 7-point advantage in Pennsylvania, with 44 percent of voters identifying as Democrat versus 37 percent calling themselves Republicans.

Bottom line: I would treat the Florida results with the most skepticism, while I’d be careful to note that the Ohio and Pennsylvania results are assuming the Democrat-Republican gap is going to be similar to 2008, which seems highly unlikely. 

Katrina TrinkoKatrina Trinko is a political reporter for National Review. Trinko is also a member of USA TODAY’S Board of Contributors, and her work has been published in various media outlets ...


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