NBC/WSJ poll: Obama leads Romney by eight points in swing states

It’s a slow news day and this is the national poll du jour so I have to blog it, but I really don’t want to. At first glance, the sample isn’t terrible: 42D/38R/14I if you include leaners, but look more closely and you’ll see a tilt. For one thing, the split between “strong Democrats” and “strong Republicans” is 21/13, and overall 41 percent say they voted for Obama four years ago compared to just 30 percent who say they voted for McCain. The One won that election by … seven points. See why it’s hard to take it seriously?

Despite the bluish tilt, Romney trails O overall by just three points. Two months ago, Obama led by six. As for the swing states:

Among swing-state respondents in the poll – those living in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin – Obama leads Romney, 50 to 42 percent.

Also in these swing states, Romney’s favorability numbers have dropped, possibly reflecting the toll the negative Obama TV advertisements are having on the former Massachusetts governor in these battlegrounds.

A month ago, Romney’s favorable/unfavorable score stood at 34-38 percent nationally and 36-36 percent in the 12 swing states.

But in this latest survey, his national fav/unfav score is 33-39 percent and 30-41 percent in the swing states.

How much does it really tell us to lump reliably blue states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin in with true battlegrounds like Ohio and Virginia? I know some Republicans think Romney can win the first two, but that’s unlikely to happen unless we end up with a glorious red landslide in which Romney dominates the true swing states and ends up picking off a few purplish blues. Use a more realistic survey of true swing states (and a more realistic sample, natch) and that eight-point spread will tighten quite a bit.

Anyway. Let’s pretend that this is a good, smart, sound poll whose data we should regard with utmost seriousness. The numbers on the economy here look … not so good. Remember that smelly jobs report we got a few weeks ago? Turns out an awful lot of people — not a majority but a lot — think 69,000 jobs added in a month is pretty darned sweet:

Lot of low-information voters out there. And despite the car accident that is the eurozone and the ominous odds of a double dip now coming from places like S&P, hope continues to spring eternal:

This is interesting too. Even if you toss out the August 2011 numbers as an outlier, O’s trendline here is strikingly flat:

Despite nearly two more years of economic malaise, Obama’s actually doing better on this question now than he was in September 2010, shortly before the big red wave broke in the midterms. What’s strange about all this is that, on the basic question of which party will better handle the economy, the GOP is now out to a six-point lead, its biggest advantage in this poll since O was sworn in. So maybe all of the above data is a red herring: Voters sympathize with how Obama took office amid a financial crisis and they buy his basic narrative that the economy is improving, however slowly, but when push comes to shove they’re ready to give Republicans a turn. That’s possibly the single most encouraging item for Romney in this poll.

A few other random data points. This one is curious:

I’m going to assume that either May was an outlier or this month’s poll is, as it’s hard to explain why Romney’s support would be getting softer lately while O’s is firming up. Obama’s had a lousy run lately with plenty of economic bad news. I can buy that he hasn’t lost anyone (yet) but I don’t quite buy that he’s locking people in while Romney’s losing them.


Maybe that sudden tilt towards the Dems is another sample artifact, but I don’t know. Note that Democrats had their biggest advantage five years ago when the congressional push for comprehensive immigration reform was at its most intense. It may be that having immigration in the spotlight mobilizes the lefty base and then, as the issue fades, the GOP gradually makes gains. Between Obama’s DREAM gambit, Rubio’s proposed DREAM bill, and anticipation for the Supreme Court’s Arizona decision, there’s been a lot of immigration chatter lately. And lo and behold, the Democrats are back on top.

One more, just to show you how low-information those low-information voters are. Here are the favorable ratings for Bain and Solyndra; the first column is “very positive,” then “somewhat positive,” then “neutral,” “somewhat negative,” and “very negative,” followed of course by “don’t know.”

Just a friendly reminder that the things we spend our days obsessing about here rarely make a dent with average voters, even when, a la Bain, the media has every incentive to make sure that they do.