We’ve already taken a look at one of our “favorite” polls to analyze. How about another series infamous for sampling issues? The latest survey from CBS and the New York Times covers three swing states won by Barack Obama in 2008, and where Mitt Romney hopes to compete. The polling performed by Quinnipiac for CBS/NYT shows Romney leading in Colorado, within the margin of error in Virginia, and almost so in Wisconsin:
Romney is ahead of the president in the swing state of Colorado, 50 percent to 45 percent. The poll shows a key part of Mr. Obama’s Colorado coalition from 2008 — college-educated white voters – in play this year.
Mr. Obama, meanwhile, leads Romney in Virginia, 49 percent to 45 percent, thanks in part to strong support from women and black voters.
In a third important state, Wisconsin, Mr. Obama has a 6-point lead over Romney, 51 percent to 45.
Twitter follower Marc BC got to the sample data ahead of me:
— Marc BC (@MarcBC10) August 8, 2012
Let’s take a look at Virginia first. The D/R/I of this poll is 30/23/40, with 7% undetermined. The D/R/I of the 2008 election exit polling for VA was 39/33/27, which is far off from Quinnipiac’s model, undersampling both Democrats and Republicans. The relative position between Democrats and Republicans is about the same (D+7 in this poll, D+6 in 2008), but I doubt we’re going to see a 2008 electorate model in November. We don’t have exit polling from VA in 2010, so we don’t know how the Republican wave would have performed statewide — but we do know that Virginia elected a Republican governor in 2009, largely on the basis of opposition to Obama’s policies.
Next, let’s look at Colorado, where Romney leads. The D/R/I is 27/32/37 in the poll; in 2008, it was 30/31/39, and in 2010 33/28/39. Colorado was one of the few states to get more Democratic in the midterms than in the previous presidential election. I’m not certain that pattern will hold in 2012, though, and it’s also worth noting that independents almost evenly split in their partisan leanings (40/39 Republican). This might be a slight GOP oversample; it still suggests a virtual tie, hardly good news for an incumbent in a state that rebuffed the GOP wave in 2010.
The sample for Wisconsin may be the toughest to analyze. The poll’s D/R/I is 34/27/33, close to the same gap as the 2008 election’s 39/33/29. However, the 2010 midterms produced an electorate of 37/36/28, which showed a strong GOP trend. Thanks to the waste of millions of dollars by unions in recall elections, the Republican base has been fired up ever since, and Scott Walker’s highly successful GOTV infrastructure remains in place for Romney. Of the three states polled by Quinnipiac, this might be the biggest Democratic oversample in terms of what model we can expect in November.
Overall, this shows Romney competing in states Obama can’t afford to lose — after getting bombarded by an avalanche of negative advertising. If Romney is this close in Wisconsin, Virginia, and Colorado, he will be well positioned to answer Obama with his own deluge of messaging when the convention unlocks the general-election funds he’s raised over the summer.