WSJ/NBC poll: Obama now leads by five in Virginia and Florida, by seven in Ohio

I know your first thought is always of the samples, so here you go: I’m listing the WSJ/NBC poll partisan split first and then the 2008 exit poll split for each state for comparison. And yes, this is likely voters:

Virginia: 31D/26R/43I (39/33/27)

Ohio: 38D/28R/32I (39/31/30)

Florida: 35D/33R/30I (37/34/29)

The Democratic turnout advantage in this model would be only a point less in Virginia and Florida than it was at the apex of Hopenchange in 2008, and in Ohio it would actually be two points greater. That’s not happening in November, but O’s lead in each state is wide enough here that I think he probably is ahead — narrowly. According to RCP’s averages, in fact, he’s up by just 1.3 points in Florida and 0.4 points in Virginia, and those numbers incorporate his gaudy leads in this WSJ/NBC poll. Even more reason not to panic: This poll was conducted from Sept. 9-11, when Obama still had a bit of a convention bounce. That bounce now appears to be gone; Ramussen’s daily tracker actually has Romney back in the lead today nationally.

The real worry for Romney is Ohio, where he’s now down 4.2 points in the RCP average and which is virtually must-win. Unemployment’s down to 7.2 percent there and the auto bailout is popular; Ohio’s also a sharp contrast with Wisconsin insofar as Kasich’s proposed collective-bargaining reforms for public-employee unions went down in flames at the polls. Not going to be easy for Romney. And per WSJ/NBC, there aren’t many undecideds left in swing states:

What’s particularly striking about these polls, Miringoff observes, is how most voters in these battleground states have already made up their minds, with just 5 to 6 percent saying they’re undecided, and with more than 80 percent signaling that they strongly support their candidate.

“Those who are thinking of voting have pretty much picked sides,” he says.

In Florida and Virginia, Obama and Romney are essentially tied among likely voters on the question of which candidate would do a better job handling the economy, although Obama has a four-point advantage on this question in Ohio.

But when it comes to handling foreign policy, the incumbent Democratic president enjoys a double-digit lead over his Republican challenger.

Again, this poll was conducted from Sunday through Tuesday, the day of the embassy attacks in Cairo and Benghazi. Let’s see how that foreign-policy question looks next week. On the other hand, because eeyore’s gotta be eeyore, note that Fox News’s national poll released last night is also showing a national lead for Obama of five points, 48/43. That poll was conducted over the same period as WSJ/NBC’s, so there’s bounciness built in there too, and the partisan split — 42D vs. 36R — strikes me as a bit more Democratic than we’ll see on election day. But again, the takeaway here is that O probably is ahead by a point or two. Nothing fatal. But Mitt needs a little momentum.

Click the image below for Pat Caddell’s thoughts on the worst campaign evah. Exit question: Team Romney’s now counting on the debates to be their launching pad, but, er, have the debates ever actually decided an election? Says John Sides, “Indeed, scholars who have looked most carefully at the data have found that, when it comes to shifting enough votes to decide the outcome of the election, presidential debates have rarely, if ever, mattered.”