Independents ♥ Romney?

posted at 8:41 am on October 10, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Christian Heinze at The Hill picks up on a months-long polling trend that I’ve noted for quite a while, but which has mostly escaped the media.  Mitt Romney has consistently and clearly led among independent voters for quite a while, although Heinze only looks at the most recent polls to make his point about the nature of the race:

Fueling his current polling surge, Mitt Romney’s numbers with indies are just getting remarkably good.

a. IBD/ITP poll released today: Romney 52% Obama 34%.

b. Pew poll, released yesterday: Romney 46% Obama 42%.

c. Politico/GW poll, released yesterday: Romney 51% Obama 35%.

d. CNN, released last week: Romney 49% Obama 41%.

e. National Journal, released October 3: Romney 49% Obama 41%.

Now having said that, Romney has done well this entire cycle with independents, but not enough to overcome turnout models that suggested much, much higher Democratic turnout.

This has been a consistent trend all during the summer and fall, and it leads to this question: if Romney’s doing so consistently well among independents, how could he be trailing?  After all, Barack Obama won in 2008 by seven points overall, and eight points among independents.  A double-digit shift in the gap among independents should be decisive.

Some argue, though, that these independents are in some significant part Republicans who aren’t affiliating themselves with the GOP.  That, however, doesn’t make much sense.  Democratic enthusiasm reached its zenith in 2008, and Republican enthusiasm its nadir.  That’s when one would expect to see disaffected Republicans identify as unaffiliated.  In this election, Republicans have the advantage in the enthusiasm gap — even before the presidential debate last week.  Chuck Todd reported on Sunday that the GOP had a double-digit overall enthusiasm advantage in the previous week’s NBC/Marist polls, with Democrats having big trouble getting its core constituencies excited.  Politico/GWU found the same in its Battleground poll last week, putting the Republican advantage at +13.

Clearly, the Democrats cant win a base turnout election under those conditions.  Republicans have the advantage (so far) among committed partisans on enthusiasm, and they’re also winning independents consistently and significantly in the same polls that show the race as a virtual dead heat.  That suggests that some of the assumptions built into the pollster models are still leaning too far to 2008, and that Romney is actually in better shape than those toplines suggest.

On the other hand, I think Jay Cost, Scott Rasmussen, and Sean Trende are solid in this analysis, too:

So where are we, four weeks out? Romney suddenly finds himself with a lead in the polls, making liberals panicked and conservatives jubilant — an interesting change of pace.

But I actually see more continuity than change here. And allow me to quote one pollster who has had a solid read on the true state of the race for months (he is also the only pollster who had an accurate read on Obama-McCain from the Lehman collapse onward, and the first to see the 2010 wipeout coming before anybody else). Scott Rasmussen:

We have reached the point in the campaign where media reports of some polls suggest wild, short-term swings in voter preferences. That doesn’t happen in the real world. A more realistic assessment shows that the race has remained stable and very close for months. Since last week’s debate, the numbers have shifted somewhat in Romney’s direction, but even that change has been fairly modest. Still, in a close race, a modest change can have a major impact. Over the past 100 days of tracking, Romney and Obama have been within two points of each other 72 times. Additionally, on 89 of those 100 days, the candidates have been within three points of each other.

This is why Sean Trende was right on the money yesterday when he pointed out that, absent various, fleeting news shocks, this race has had a tendency to settle into a dead heat, with both candidates right around 47 or 48 percent of the vote.

Another point where Trende was spot on: Team Obama is running a bandwagon campaign. In fact, it has been running such a thing since it won the Iowa Caucus all the way back in early 2008. The idea is to convince the country that Obama is a sure winner – so why not jump on board? Thus, the president and his team have tried to create news at the exact moment the race begins to settle back into a tie. That explains perfectly the timing of the attacks on Romney – Bain Capital, tax returns, and the “47 percent” comment – all meant to inflate Obama’s numbers artificially above the rough 47-47 tie we should be seeing.

I’ll add one caveat to that, though: that’s about what I figured would happen in the race (I put it more at 46/46 or 45/45), until the first debate.  That was always going to be the inflection point for an incumbent who couldn’t get above 45-47% in real terms, and even some of that possibly soft.  Could Romney make the case that he was an acceptable alternative to a mediocre-or-worse President?  Once he made that case — and Obama helped him enormously with his own disengaged and disinterested performance — the race would change in a fundamental way.

That seems to have happened, but I’m wondering if it hasn’t been happening all along with those unaffiliated voters that have consistently favored Romney.  We’ll see soon enough.

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You don’t always get the ideal choice, so you have to rationalize which scenario gives you the better result. This is the way it works in our Republic and in life in general. It’s not a matter of “settling”. It’s a matter of being realistic.

NOMOBO on October 10, 2012 at 10:44 AM

Rationalize, schmationalize, some people simply lack rational faculties and they thrive on putting their inflated egos and self-importance above anything else. Heroes in their own eyes and in their own little world in their oversized heads. I learn that it’s best to leave this sort of people alone..they are that for most part anyways.

jimver on October 10, 2012 at 10:55 AM

The Grieving Widow Behind Romney’s Personal Story

Jane Horton began crying on the other end of the phone when she learned that Mitt Romney had been using the story of her husband, Chris Horton, who was killed in Afghanistan, as a part of his stump speech.

“One of the last things my husband said to me before he was killed, when I would ask him, ‘Chris, what do you need over there? What can I send you?’ he said, ‘I need a new president,’” Horton recalled.

Flora Duh on October 10, 2012 at 10:57 AM

“Part one of Mitt’s plan is to achieve energy independence on this continent by 2020″ but doesn’t say how he’ll do it. Disclaimer: I work in the oil business. I KNOW what it would take. Why doesn’t he say, “I’ll make sure the EPA makes science-based decisions?” Because he WON’T do it, that’s why. Wow. Not much different from Obama.

Wino on October 10, 2012 at 10:34 AM

Ha, science-based decisions…well, it depends who spins ‘the scientific’ study in question and who is behind it. We all know that big industries like sometimes to play with ‘science’ too, and manipulate data to dupe poor consummers, not just the EPA. The food industry still maintains that artificial food coloring is ok and not harmful, for jnstance, based on ‘scientific’ studies. when the truth is that consumption of food dyes has increased 500 % in the past 50 years! Tell me about harmless again. As for the dyes that have been tested, studies have come back inconclusive – but some have shown links to certain types of cancers. Yet you don’t see the food industry reducing the use of food coloring.

jimver on October 10, 2012 at 11:07 AM

Flora Duh on October 10, 2012 at 10:57 AM

Notice ABC’s juxtaposition of the headline and the photo, in order to subtly discredit Mrs. Horton. Media bias isn’t one big thing, it’s a thousand little things, each undermining the right just a tiny bit like individual waves lapping at a cliff.

Fabozz on October 10, 2012 at 11:07 AM

cozmo on October 10, 2012 at 9:00 AM

A free bottle for your new found friend. Thunderbird.

Bmore on October 10, 2012 at 11:10 AM

“Part one of Mitt’s plan is to achieve energy independence on this continent by 2020″ but doesn’t say how he’ll do it. Disclaimer: I work in the oil business. I KNOW what it would take. Why doesn’t he say, “I’ll make sure the EPA makes science-based decisions?” Because he WON’T do it, that’s why. Wow. Not much different from Obama.

Wino on October 10, 2012 at 10:34 AM

Maybe because it’s not the EPA’s job to interfere in energy production. I think you’re very confused.

darwin on October 10, 2012 at 10:55 AM

you’re being too pc, it’s called ignorance. Low information “voters” don’t get it.

Educate yourself a bit and you will see that your vote for Obowmao is a slap in your children and grand-children’s faces.

screwauger on October 10, 2012 at 11:11 AM

OT : O’Keefe says these incidents have provided plenty of video !!

pambi on October 10, 2012 at 11:12 AM

wino seems to think we don’t know why the dems gave the EPA power to legislate by regulation in the first place. I think the courts passed on it didn’t they? Recall when they did that Bush put out an EO that would not allow CO2 to be considered a pollutant and it was one of the first things Obama rescinded.

Hey wino, tell us why you think they did that. Defend exhaling as detrimental to the earth for us.

DanMan on October 10, 2012 at 11:15 AM

I have 6 friends who switched their voter registration from Democrat to Independent and plan to vote for Romney. People have woken up to the fact that Obama is a sick joke on America.

jqc1970 on October 10, 2012 at 11:19 AM

“The pollsters have to start reflecting a more accurate representation of the true electorate, to preserve their own reputations…”

ICanSeeNovFromMyHouse on October 10, 2012 at 8:51 AM

This is exactly what happened leading up to Carter’s end. And you can add to the list: the water-carrying pundits, the MSM, the sheeple, etc.

They all started wandering listlessly, bumping into walls and sharp corners – trying to disappear into the woodwork, answering “Carter who?” to all of us saying “I told you so”.

Tsar of Earth on October 10, 2012 at 11:22 AM

OT : O’Keefe says these incidents have provided plenty of video !!

pambi on October 10, 2012 at 11:12 AM

I hope at least Fox will talk about that. The rest of the media won’t go in there.

jimver on October 10, 2012 at 11:25 AM

As a lifelong registered Independent, an economic conservative, not a social issues one, Romney’s been my favorite all along. I think this country needs a good manager with a strong economic background to begin to get us out of the debt and deficit hole we’ve dug for ourselves, which Obama kept right on digging…big time. Unlike Obama, Mitt has savvy in business and financial fields and actually believes in the American system. My only concern has been that Romney wouldn’t engage and fight the fight he’d have to fight with Chicago politicians and the in-the-tank for Obama media. He’s started, just hope he didn’t start too late. If elected, he’ll face hostility and overt smear campaigns from many on the left and from the media, but he is the best hope of getting our economic house in order before we land right on top of Greece in the financial abyss. Obama will make sure we fall, then make sure we climb underneath Greece down at the bottom.

limmo on October 10, 2012 at 11:32 AM

On the subject of polls. Today Rasmussen has Romney +1, but today the party skew is D+5%. Yesterday the skew was D+3%, which is more realistic. If Rasmussen had stuck at that number instead of weighting the poll the be more democratic, Romney would’ve been ahead 3-4% today.

My suspicion is that he’s using weighting to avoid abrupt shifts in the numbers. This however, begs the question, what happens when weekend data is entirely worked out of the system, AND Rass is using a realistic skew?

WolvenOne on October 10, 2012 at 11:35 AM

a. IBD/ITP poll released today: Romney 52% Obama 34%.

..watching Varney & Co. this AM and this “was a big f**king deal” with the IBD/TIPP guy. He really emphasized it. It is said that this poll was dead-ballz accurate in 2004 and 2008.

Now, ‘scuze me while I duck and cover; I feel an earthquake coming on!

The War Planner on October 10, 2012 at 11:36 AM

The thing about the “47-47 tie” is that 47% is basically Obama’s approval and vote ceiling.

The variance in this race has been the varying degrees of indecision voters (6% to 10% in most unforced polls) have had about Romney as a competent alternative while under a record barrage of Obama attack ads repeated faithfully by the Democrat press.

Romney did not win the first debate with Obama based on his brilliant rhetoric or scintillating ideas of governance, but rather because the GOP challenger was able to speak unfiltered to a record setting number of viewing voters and successfully offered himself as a competent alternative.

As with the 1980 Reagan/Carter debates, the Romney/Obama debate broke the media dam and undecided voters are now flowing toward Romney.

2012 is essentially the 1980 dynamic with the 2010 electorate – a fired up GOP joined by a heavy majority of Independents.

Bart DePalma on October 10, 2012 at 11:46 AM

Party Time, chumps! — M. Romney

Droopy on October 10, 2012 at 11:48 AM

It is mathematically impossible for Obama to be leading in any swing state being down with independents by double digits. Out of 11.5 million people in Ohio, 4.85 million registered voters, and independents make up 33% of the electorate. Obama is down by an average of 750K before the election.

jjnco73 on October 10, 2012 at 11:49 AM

Do I agree with all of Mitt Romney’s positions and plans? Nope.

He is, however, getting up to the 40% rate and that is as good as any other modern politician I’ve seen in my lifetime. He appears to even have a clue and even able to wield a cluebat.

We need more of that, not less.

And against a guy who I have trouble identifying more than two things that he has done right in his time in office… well… the guy with the clue and wielding the cluebat on them wins, hands-down.

ajacksonian on October 10, 2012 at 11:49 AM

God Bless you Chris Horton.

We all need a new president.

Jvette on October 10, 2012 at 11:49 AM

Changing the subject:

The drudge has this right now:

The V.P. debate is being moderated by an Obama Administration Wife. Who didn’t see that? She has a different last name.

President Barack Obama was a guest at the 1991 wedding of ABC senior foreign correspondent and vice presidential debate moderator Martha Raddatz, The Daily Caller has learned. Obama and groom Julius Genachowski, whom Obama would later tap to head the Federal Communications Commission, were Harvard Law School classmates at the time and members of the Harvard Law Review.

Read more:

Fleuries on October 10, 2012 at 11:55 AM

Cleombrotus on October 10, 2012 at 9:21 AM: “Sobering.”

I’m not trying to bring anybody down. I’m glad people believe Obama will be beaten. I believe it too, and it needs to happen.

But the reality is what it is. Action is needed. If nothing is done, the ship is going down, and no polls can change this. That reality should always be remembered.

After Mitt Romney is elected, a serious struggle will begin to get action, meaning border control and no amnesty, to begin with.

(Of course if Obama was re-elected, there would be no struggle: the left would claim victory, and the right would be shut out of the conversation. So I can’t understand anyone who claims that Romney or Obama is a matter of indifference.)

David Blue on October 10, 2012 at 12:04 PM

Our local tv babe person just came in with the noon report leading with O at 51% and Mitt at 47% in Ohio. I don’t know where she is getting her info though. She was smirking.

megthered on October 10, 2012 at 12:08 PM

The polls are crap.

Romney is winning comfortably.

hillbillyjim on October 10, 2012 at 12:11 PM

It begins. Issa is starting to prosecute Benghazi.

John the Libertarian on October 10, 2012 at 12:15 PM

Boycott Universal!!!

Schadenfreude on October 10, 2012 at 12:40 PM

Anyone who’s still waiting for some reason to vote for Romney is dangerously uninformed.

darwin on October 10, 2012 at 9:12 AM

They aren’t “waiting” for anything. They were always ABR-tards, only their reasons for being so have changed. Usually they spout some incoherent jibber-jabber about the “GOPe” – the Republican establishment – conspiracy. IOW, don’t bother trying to debate those numbskulls.

Go RBNY on October 10, 2012 at 12:51 PM

The first debate was THE defining one. As long as Mitt doesn’t strip naked on stage, there’s little that Obama can do. Why? Because no matter how hard he tries…and no matter how much he lies…a debate stage is not a campaign stop. In the debates, Romney is going to be standing there, looking at him, judging him…and most importantly, he isn’t afraid to push back. It is a completely different experience as to what Obama is used to – i.e., the throngs of teary-eyed, intellectually vacuous sheep he’s used to looking out upon at his half-empty rallies.

The thing that most impressed me in Romney’s debate performance wasn’t the zingers or his job-interview-like recitation of points and counterpoints or his “happy warrior” demeanor. What impressed me most is seeing that Romney understands Leftist ideology…and since Barack Obama is nothing but your typical, intellectually shallow Leftist, he understands him as well. He understands the flawed ideas and fallacious arguments that always under gird the Left’s ideology. But most importantly…he understands that beneath the average Leftist’s facade of intellectualism, moral righteousness, and “concern” for “the people”, there usually lurks a petty, self-involved little tyrant that can’t stand to be challenged on his views and thinks that he knows what’s best for everyone.

That was the beauty of the 3-4 little shots he took at Obama. They weren’t directed at Obama personally; thus, the public didn’t perceive them as harshly negative…instead, they were directed at the Leftist that resides inside Obama. And it was that that was Obama’s undoing, because I’ll wager you dollars-to-dimes that the reason that Obama became more and more of a bumbling mess as the nite went on is because while he was trying to focus on the particular topic at hand, he was unable to let go of the things that Romney had said earlier.

And that’s all that Romney has to do – i.e., take a couple of well-timed, good-natured shots at Little Lord Barry. The mockery is the part that will always get to him. And no matter how hard he tries, he simply won’t be able to let it go. As long as Romney keeps the digs light-hearted, Obama will have no defense against it.

rvastar on October 10, 2012 at 12:55 PM

besser tot als rot on October 10, 2012 at 10:16 AM

Aw shucks honey boo. Did you have anything substantial to add?

Or were just just coming to the aid of a flailing fellow ABR nutball?

cozmo on October 10, 2012 at 2:36 PM

In swing state, after swing state, after swing state, Democratic registration has fallen considerably from 2008 levels. THIS is why all those polls showing not just a similar number of Democrats but MORE Democrats compared to Obama/McCain were always complete garbage.

Romney definitely helped himself with the debate, but the vast majority of his ‘bounce’ is just polls changing from Democratic-fantasy-land to reality.

BTW, Rasmussen is weighting to a D+3 election, but IMHO it will be at worst even, with a Republican tilt more likely.

Texastoast on October 10, 2012 at 2:43 PM

One man’s opinion: THIS will be the election where the “polls” are revealed as a crock. No land lines, nobody wanting to talk to pollsters (would you?) combined with obvious sample bias and most pollsters will be dumped in with the rest of the biased MFM.

There is a rout on its way and the debate just accelerated it!

winston on October 10, 2012 at 8:57 AM

…despite the MSM…I’m feeling the same way.

KOOLAID2 on October 10, 2012 at 5:49 PM