Barack Obama has taken a one-point lead, with a three-day, three-point swing in his favor, in today’s Politico/GWU Battleground tracking poll — but once again, the internals tell a different tale.  Eight days out from the election, independents still favor Mitt Romney, and the gender gap is still neutralized.  James Hohmann reports on the topline:

With eight days to go until the election, President Barack Obama has recaptured a narrow national lead over Mitt Romney, riding increased support from women and an edge in early voting.

A new POLITICO/George Washington University Battleground Tracking Poll of 1,000 likely voters — taken from last Monday through Thursday — shows Obama ahead of Romney by 1 percent, 49 to 48 percent. That represents a 3-point swing in Obama’s direction from a week ago but reflects a race that remains statistically tied.

Obama leads by 8 points among those who have already voted, 53 to 45 percent. These early voters represent 15 percent of the electorate, with many more expected to vote in the next few days — though Hurricane Sandy could change that.

But the GOP nominee maintains a potentially pivotal advantage in intensity among his supporters. Sixty percent of those who support Obama say they are “extremely likely” to vote, compared to 73 percent who back Romney. Among this group, Romney leads Obama by 9 points, 53 to 44 percent.

By any measure, the race is neck-and-neck: 43 percent say they will “definitely” vote Romney, compared to 42 percent who say the same of the president.

The sample in this case is a little better than the earlier WaPo/ABC tracking poll, but still questionable.  The D/R/I is 35/31/33 for a D+4, an arguable case, but one which considers a lower Republican turnout than even 2008.  The topline looks even more odd when looking at the internals, however.

For instance, Romney wins independents by 10 points, 50/40.  When broken down into soft/hard partisan and ticket-splitter categories, Romney’s lead increases to 16 among ticket-splitters, 50/34.  Romney also has neutralized the gender gap in this poll, winning men by 12 (55/43) while losing women by 11 (43/54).

There’s something interesting in the age demos, too. Romney wins all of the age demos above 34 years of age by majorities, albeit thin until one gets to seniors (55/42).  But the sample of likely voters has more respondents below 34 years of age (218) than seniors (217).  That did happen in 2008, according to exit polls, but it’s not likely to happen this time around, not with the enthusiasm levels rising among seniors and dropping among younger voters all year long.

Ed Goeas gives a cheerful prediction of a five-point Romney win based on this data:

In sum, this data indicates this election remains very close on the surface, but the political environment and the composition of the likely electorate favor Governor Romney.  These factors come into play with our “vote election model” – which takes into account variables like vote intensity, voters who say they are definite in their vote, and demographics like age and education.  In that snapshot of today’s vote model, Mitt Romney leads Barack Obama by five-points – 52% to 47%.  While that gap can certainly be closed by the ground game of the Democrats, reports from the field would indicate that not to be the case, and Mitt Romney may well be heading to a decisive victory.

If Romney wins independents by 10 and keeps a virtual tie in the gender gap — a consistent finding in all of these polls — then that’s what I see coming, too.