CBS/NYT poll shows dead heat between Obama, Romney at 46%

posted at 8:41 am on April 18, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

So much for that eight-point lead in the secretly-weighted CNN poll, eh?  CBS gives us a sneak peek at their first general-election poll of the season, in partnership with the New York Times, and finds a dead heat in the mid-40s:

Mitt Romney has closed the gap with President Obama among registered voters, a CBS News/New York Times poll released Wednesday found, putting the former Massachusetts governor in a dead heat with the president for the White House.

Mr. Obama and Romney each received support from 46 percent of registered voters when asked who they would vote for if the election were held today. In March, a CBS News/New York Times survey found that Mr. Obama held a slight advantage over Romney of 47 percent to 44 percent.

Normally, I’d take a poll from a media outlet and thoroughly vet the internals before posting an analysis.  CBS didn’t provide the internals of their new poll, however, so we’ll have to make do with their review of the data.  The topline results match what most other pollsters are finding, within the margin of error.  In fact, it matches what CNN found in their poll of general-population adults — at least before they turned a 48/47 result for Obama into a 53/41 without any explanation whatsoever.

The key here is that Obama is only drawing 46% as the incumbent and the unchallenged Democratic contender in the race.  Romney only gets to 46% too, but as the internals show, there is still plenty of upside from the end of the primary fight:

Following the end of Santorum’s bid for the presidency, Republican primary voters have rallied behind Romney, with 54 percent saying they want him to lead Republicans into the fall campaign season. That’s a significant difference from March, when only 30 percent wanted him to be the nominee.

Gingrich was preferred among 20 percent of Republican primary voters; Paul received support from 12 percent. Nine percent picked “someone else.” When asked if Santorum should have suspended his campaign, 63 percent of those polled said yes; 30 percent said no.

Still, many Republicans expressed lukewarm feelings toward Romney, with 40 percent of primary voters having reservations about him compared with 33 percent saying they supported him “enthusiastically.” In January, the last time a CBS News/New York Times survey asked primary voters about Romney, 28 percent said they supported him enthusiastically and 38 percent had reservations.

We’re at 46/46 without having hit a real “honeymoon” stage for Romney after the practical end of the Republican fight.  That’s bad news for Team Obama, especially while facing a slowing economy and rising gas prices, and having nothing to offer but Buffett Rules and nostalgia.

We do have the internals for the Reuters/Ipsos poll from yesterday, and they’re pretty much nonsense.  The poll shows Obama up four over Romney, 47/43, but that’s with a stated D/R/I of 47/38/15.  That’s only predictive if one believes that Democrats will gain eight points over their 2008 turnout, and have two points more of a lead over Republicans than that election provided, according to CNN’s exit polls.  Without counting the leaners, the D/R/I is still an odd 29/22/49.

In either case, having a lead within the MoE on a skew of this proportion should also have the White House worried.  But there is one key indicator that looks even worse for Obama, which is his approval ratings.  They peg Obama approval at 49/49, which is attributable largely to the sample skew, and is hardly impressive.  But his approval among independents is a disastrous 37/57, down from 42/54 in March and 45/44 in January.  He’s crashing and burning in the middle, where Obama won the 2008 election.


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