Too good to check: Obama and Romney tied in Northern Virginia?

posted at 2:01 pm on August 10, 2012 by Mary Katharine Ham

All right, I’m going anti-Eyeore with this poll result. I meant to post it yesterday, but figured you might enjoy it more today as a counterpoint to the Fox and CNN polls, which look none too good for Romney.

A local news radio station in Washington, D.C., WTOP, conducted its own poll of D.C., Maryland, and Northern Virginia. D.C.’s and Maryland’s overwhelmingly pro-Obama results are unsurprising and unimportant, but then there’s this:

Voters in Northern Virginia are almost evenly split between President Barack Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney, according to the WTOP Beltway Poll conducted by Heart+Mind Strategies.

Forty-eight percent of residents support Obama while 46 percent would vote for Romney. The difference falls easily within the poll’s 4.17 percent margin of error.

Say wha? Northern Virginia has elected Rep. Jim “I’m going to earmark the shi[nola] out of (the Appropriations Committee)” Moran in every election since 1990. The man is a quintessential Beltway liberal who has an entire section dedicated to physical assaults on his Wikipedia page. It is this area of the state that will give Obama his win, if he can get it. Somewhere, a Moran legislative assistant is at work again with the putty knife and the hand sander just upon the suggestion of this bad news.

But here in Northern Virginia, Mitt Romney and President Obama are in a statistical dead heat? The sample is rather small, so take that into account, but WTOP is no fly-by-night news organization.

Nate Cohn of The New Republic registers his skepticism for two such partial-state polls this week:

There were also two odd sub-state polls: AARP found Romney up two among Floridians over age 50 and a WTOP poll found Obama up by just 2 points in northern Virignia. I’ve never heard of the latter poll and it’s wildly inconsistent with Obama’s narrow statewide lead, since Obama won northern Virginia by twenty points in 2008 (although that depends on the definition of northern Virginia). On the other hand, a close race among Floridians over 50 is quite consistent with the close statewide race shown by most polling firms.

The Real Clear Politics average for the state of Virginia has Obama up 3.2, and most of that margin should be coming from Northern Virginia. Popular Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell won the region with 53 percent in an off-year election in 2009, so the it’s not totally intractable. Eh, I’m skeptical, too, but consider it your spoonful of sugar, along with Jay Cost’s case for why this race is Romney’s to win.

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