In 2008, Barack Obama won the national popular vote by seven points in a turnout where Democrats outvoted Republicans by … seven points. According to a new poll by the Washington Post and ABC News, if Democrats could beat Republicans by nine points in voter turnout this year, Obama might just tie Mitt Romney:
A pair of tepid jobs reports, landmark Supreme Court decisions on health-care and immigration laws, and an unprecedented barrage of negative ads have shaped the opening months of the fall presidential campaign. The impact on the horse race: virtually none.
According to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney remain in a deadlocked contest, tied at 47 percent among registered voters and basically where they stood in late May.
The new numbers reflect a stubborn constancy: Only twice in 13 surveys over more than a year has either candidate held a lead exceeding the poll’s margin of sampling error. Now, the campaign appears destined to remain extremely close in the final four months before Election Day.
Only if the D/R/I in the vote matches that of this poll sample. Readers have to trek around a bit to find it, but the D/R/I in this sample is 33/24/36. In 2008, the split was 39/32/29, and in the 2010 midterms it was 35/35/30, both figures from CNN’s exit polls. In this case, we have a split that’s wider than the Democratic wave election of 2008, and it can only produce a tie for Obama among registered voters. That doesn’t sound very promising for Obama, unless one believes that we’re about to see a massive wave election for Democrats that will outdo the 2008 election.
With that sample tilt in mind, some of the down-survey questions are of interest. For instance, 43% of the respondents think that Obama’s handling of the economy is a good reason to vote against him, while only 36% think it’s a reason to support Obama. On the Bain attacks, though, 50% think it’s not relevant to the choice, and the rest are split into a virtual tie, with 24% believing it’s a reason to oppose Romney and 23% believing it’s a reason to support him. Did I mention that this sample has a D+9 tilt? I believe I did. Looks like the Bain attacks aren’t even convincing the Obama choir.
Also, on the issues, the split isn’t helping Obama much. He gets a 47/49 for an overall approval rating, but that drops to 44/54 on the economy. Despite his big win on ObamaCare two weeks ago (before this survey took place), his approval rating on health care is only 41/52. On immigration, despite his attempt to pander to Hispanics last month, it’s a dismal 38/52.
Did I mention that this poll has a D+9 split? I believe I did. If Obama can’t get above water on approval ratings or break out of a tie with Romney in a sample this friendly, what will happen when Obama has to go head-to-head with Romney in a turnout model that’s closer to 2010 than 2008? I don’t think it’s as close as the Post thinks, nor do I think it’s going to “remain extremely close” for the next four months … unless they decide to go to the D+13 split they’ve used on occasion.