The Campaign Spot

Another Day, Another Democrat-Heavy Poll Sample

Much of the day’s campaign coverage is likely to be driven by the New York Times’ latest poll in swing states:

President Barack Obama hits the magic 50 percent mark against Gov. Mitt Romney among likely voters in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, with wide support for his plan to hike federal income taxes on upper-income voters, according to a Quinnipiac University/ CBS News/New York Times Swing State Poll released today.

This is the first measure of likely voters in these swing states and cannot be compared with earlier surveys of registered voters.  Matching Obama against Romney in each of these key states – no one has won the White House since 1960 without taking at least two of them – shows:

Florida:          Obama edges Romney 51– 45 percent;

Ohio: Obama over Romney by a slim 50 – 44 percent;

Pennsylvania: Obama tops Romney 53 – 42 percent.

If Obama surging to a better position among likely voters than among registered voters seems odd to you… it’s because it is. “As an empirical matter, Republicans do better among likely voters since the GOP draws from high turnout groups like seniors, while Democrats depend on constituencies with low turnout rates, like young voters and Latinos. With an impressive slate of historical polling data, Nate Silver found that shifting to likely voters causes a 1.5 point swing toward the GOP.”

And if your instinct is to wonder if the samples have unrealistic proportions of Democrats to Republicans, well… you’re probably right. John Podhoretz already picked out the numbers this morning: “Florida’s 2008 exit poll when Obama won by 5 percentage points: Dem +4. Quinnipiac/NYT Florida poll today — Dem +9… Ohio 2008 exit poll: Dem +8. Today’s Quinnipiac poll: Dem +8…. 2008 exit poll in Pennsylvania: Dem +7. Today Quinnipiac poll: Dem +6. If today’s Qunnipiac polls are right, there are more Obama voters in Florida today than in 2008, and the same number in Ohio and Pennsylvania as in ‘08. Choose to believe if you want.”

UPDATE: Jon in Washington points out another incongruity: In most polls Romney is tied nationally, but he’s losing the swing states worse than McCain did?

 When Quinnipiac asked its swing state samples, “Did you vote for Barack Obama or John McCain in 2008? Obama enjoys a 13 percentage point margin in Florida and a 15 percentage point margin in Ohio. Of course, in 2008, Obama won Florida by three percentage points and Ohio by 4.6 percentage points.

So these are some really heavily Democrat samples.


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