Can Mitt Romney have such a huge lead in non-swing states that he can be within two points of Barack Obama nationally — but be behind in swing states by eleven? So says the Washington Post today in their curiously schizophrenic report:
Nationally, the race is unmoved from early September, with 49 percent of likely voters saying they would vote for Obama if the election were held today and 47 percent saying they would vote for Romney. Among all registered voters, Obama is up by a slim five percentage points, nearly identical to his margin in a poll two weeks ago.
But 52 percent of likely voters across swing states side with Obama and 41 percent with Romney in the new national poll, paralleling Obama’s advantages in recent Washington Post polls in Florida, Ohio and Virginia.
Even more curious, the shift in attitudes in the electorate should be favoring Romney over Obama:
A slim majority of voters now see Romney’s wealth as a positive, signifying his achieving the “American Dream.” Fewer are focusing on issues of economic inequality and the gap between rich and poor. And there has been a big jump in the number of voters who say he has paid his fair share in taxes.
Just after Romney released his 2010 tax return earlier this year that showed he had paid a federal income tax rate of about 14 percent, 66 percent of voters said he had not paid his fair share. Now, after the release of his 2011 return showing a similar tax rate, 48 percent say he is not paying his fair share, and about as many, 46 percent, say he is.
This time, the issue isn’t sampling — at least not in the national polling. The D/R/I is only a D+3 at 33/30/33, a pretty reasonable model for this year’s election. That’s right in between the 2008 and 2010 exit polling results.
The big gap on swing states makes less sense, though. The biggest non-swing states should favor Obama — California, New York, and Illinois, with Texas being the only large non-swing state that is firmly in the Republican column. Romney will win the South easily, but Obama gets the whole West Coast and most of New England, too. Without a chance to see the samples in each state and the demographic breakout, I’m a little skeptical that Romney could be losing by eleven in the swing states but only by two nationwide.
Rasmussen’s update yesterday on its swing-state tracking poll showed Romney trailing by four, within the margin of error. That sounds more reasonable for a two-point national race.