USA Today reports:
Mitt Romney leads President Obama by four percentage points among likely voters in the nation’s top battlegrounds, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, and he has growing enthusiasm among women to thank.
As the presidential campaign heads into its final weeks, the survey of voters in 12 crucial swing states finds female voters much more engaged in the election and increasingly concerned about the deficit and debt issues that favor Romney. The Republican nominee now ties the president among women who are likely voters, 48%-48%, while he leads by 12 points among men.
One curious finding of the poll:
When women were asked to identify the most important issue for women, though, the answers were strikingly different. The top concern by far was abortion, an issue that didn’t even register among men. Nearly four in 10 women cited it, and those who did supported Obama by more than 3-1. Fifteen percent cited equal rights, pay or opportunity.
I’m surprised that abortion ranks as the most important issue for nearly 40 percent of women — and I’m even more surprised that if that’s the case, that the vast majority support Obama (I certainly know plenty of pro-life women who have strong feelings on abortion).
UPDATE: Well, Team Obama is apparently freaked out by this poll and the traction it’s getting because I just got a long memo from them, written by Joel Benenson, president of the Benenson Strategy Group, questioning the accuracy of Gallup’s likely voter sample:#more#
The latest Gallup/ USA Today Battleground survey showing President Obama and Governor Romney tied with women in battleground states (48-48) is an extreme outlier, defying the trends seen in every other battleground and national poll.
This result underscores deep flaws in Gallup’s likely voter screen.
Only 2 years ago the distortions in Gallup’s likely voter screen were exposed, leaving Gallup’s survey 9 points off the mark just days before the election.
Gallup’s likely voter model predicted a 15 point advantage for Republicans, 55-40, on October 31, 2010.
The final result was a 6 point margin, 51-45.
That year, Gallup’s registered voter survey was much closer to reality at 48-44.
Gallup’s data is once again far out of line with other public pollsters.
In 14 state polls conducted across 8 swing states since October 4, President Obama leads among women in every single one.
President Obama has a double-digit among women lead in 10 of these polls, including several surveys where the overall horserace is close or the President is behind.
On average, President Obama leads among women by 10.3 points and overall by 2.3 points. (See table on page 2 for results)
We believe the problem with Gallup’s outlying data is rooted in their 7 question likely voter screen, which distorts the composition of likely voters, leading to erratic and inaccurate results.
In Gallup’s current survey, Obama leads women by 53-44 among registered voters in the Battleground States, which is closely aligned with results from other pollsters.
It is only when the likely voter screen is applied that their results become so out of step.
Several of the likely voter questions create a bias against groups inclined to support Obama.
For example, Gallup asks voters both whether they have voted in their precinct before and where people in their neighborhood go to vote.
This creates a bias against registered voters who more likely to move from time to time, such as young voters, renters, minorities and urban dwellers, all of whom tend to lean toward the President.
In the past, Gallup’s justification for such outlying numbers is that they are providing a snapshot of voter attitudes during a particular time period, not predicting the outcome of the election. But this implausible result among women appears to not even provide an accurate reflection on the electorate today, making its value questionable.
The upside: There’s now bipartisan agreement that bad polling samples can affect poll results.
This post has been modified to reflect that USA Today corrected their piece to say Romney led by four points, not five as was originally reported.