I know what you’re thinking: The damned libertarians are going to blow it by pulling a Nader on Romney. Is that what the data says, though? That 11 percent among indies does fit with a “disaffected Paul fans ready to go third party” narrative, but look closely at the first table. The only group among which Johnson pulls double digits is … “very liberal” voters, who I assume prefer him to O either because they’re disgruntled that Obama didn’t deliver single-payer yet or whatever and are looking for a protest vote or because they really, really like Johnson’s platform on legalizing drugs.
But never mind them. Check out the staggering split between The One and Romney among “somewhat conservative” voters and, especially, “moderates.” I expect the latter group to tilt Democratic simply because liberals tend to be more reluctant to define themselves as liberal than conservatives are in defining themselves as conservatives, but a 60/33 split seems astounding. Also, note that O is a net +70 among “somewhat liberal” voters but Mitt is just +47 among “somewhat conservative” ones. Again, I think that’s partly to do with how voters define themselves: “Somewhat conservatives” really are somewhat conservative but “somewhat liberals” are solidly liberal yet less inclined to fully embrace that. As such, Obama’s bound to do better with them than Mitt will with “somewhat conservatives.” But even so — between that group and “moderates,” you’re seeing many more Obama voters in the mix than I’d expect. Which is to say, it’s not Gary Johnson and the libertarians who are killing Romney here (especially since there are “very liberal” voters in Johnson’s base), it’s centrist Republicans and moderate Democrats, a pattern we also saw in that Pew poll on Tuesday about strong support for Romney among tea partiers and weaker support among neutrals. He needs to close the gap with the middle, badly. But then, that’s what the general election “Etch-a-Sketch” strategy is all about.
Follow the link for additional data about the veepstakes. Exit question: Chris Christie helps Romney as VP more (marginally more) than either Jeb Bush or Mike Huckabee do? Never would I have guessed.