Obama only at 47% in … Oregon?

posted at 11:31 am on October 30, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Earlier, Mark Halperin told the Morning Joe audience that Team Obama has shifted to defense along a rather long blue line, including Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Minnesota.  Perhaps we should include Oregon in that mix.  Barack Obama won the West Coast state in a Pacific breeze four years ago, 57/41, but today can’t get above 47% with just seven days to go:

President Barack Obama holds a relatively narrow lead of six points over Republican challenger Mitt Romney in Oregon, according to a new poll conducted for The Oregonian. …

It shows Obama leading Romney 47 percent to 41 percent, with 8 percent undecided. Three percent of voters said they would vote for someone else and 1 percent said they would not vote in the race.

When an incumbent Democrat can’t get to 50% in a deeply blue state like Oregon, that’s a bad sign.  So too is sudden Romney enthusiasm, although it has yet to be reflected in the polls:

Democratic officials continued to express optimism that Obama would win Oregon, which hasn’t gone for a Republican presidential candidate since 1984. But Republican activists said GOP voters in the state have shown a boost of enthusiasm that has energized Romney voters in recent weeks.

“We are seeing incredible enthusiasm at the grass-roots level,” said Greg Leo, executive director of the Oregon Republican Party. He said the demand for lawn signs surged around the state following Romney’s strong showing in the first debate.

Trent Lutz, executive director of the Democratic Party of Oregon, noted that “we’ve had a number of close statewide elections” that almost always wind up going to Democrats. He said he was confident that the president still retains the support of most Oregon voters and that the Obama campaign has a stronger get-out-the-vote operation in the state that will pay dividends.

The Oregonian didn’t provide a link to their data, so it’s difficult to tell how solid the sample is.  Elway Research, which conducted the poll, plays primarily in the Pacific Northwest, and doesn’t have any of the data on its own.  The poll has a five-point margin of error, which suggests a rather small sample, and a six-point lead is nothing to sneeze at, either.

Still, that 47/41 result leaves 12% of the electorate up for grabs, in a state that should be an easy win for a Democrat.  In 2008, the exit polls showed a D+9 turnout, with Obama winning 9% of Republicans, and taking independents by 23 points, 59/36.  Clearly those conditions have changed in Oregon, and an incumbent who doesn’t get to 50% with a week to go probably won’t close particularly well in the final seven days.

While we’re on the subject of polling, it looks like my earlier prediction has come true:

Gallup will suspend its daily national polling on account of the storm, and many voters in the battlegrounds of Pennsylvania, Virginia and New Hampshire could be out of reach of pollsters just days before the election.

Brad Coker, managing director at Mason-Dixon Polling and Research, said polling outlets can’t get good access to voters two days before or two days after a major weather event, as voters stock up on water ahead of time, and clean up their yards in the days that follow. …

And it’s not just poll watchers that will be in the dark. The campaigns themselves spend big on internal polling to help determine where to allocate resources.

“That’s going to make it difficult to decide where candidates are going to travel,” political strategist Doug Thornell told The Hill in an interview.

For a political class and electorate that has obsessed over the polls, the drought couldn’t come at a more inopportune time.

It’s possible that the national polls could be back with two- or three-day samples by Monday, and Rasmussen usually uses one-day samples for its overall surveys, so we might see a couple of national pictures on the eve of the elections.  I’d say it’s more likely that we’ll just get a keener focus on state polling.

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