Lots of buzz about the latest CBS News/Quinnipiac poll in Ohio, taken after the second debate, and especially about its methodology. Let’s take a look at the toplines first, which despite the rather silly sample shows Mitt Romney with the momentum in the Buckeye State:
President Obama is holding on to a five-point lead over Republican Mitt Romney in Ohio, but that margin has been cut in half since September, according to a new Quinnipiac University/CBS News poll.
Mr. Obama holds a 50 to 45 percent lead over Romney among likely voters in the Buckeye State, down from a 53 to 43 percent advantage on Sept. 26. Three percent of likely voters there are undecided.
A gender gap persists: President Obama still has a double-digit advantage among women, 55 to 40 percent (down from a 60 to 35 percent lead in the September poll), while Romney leads with men.
The president enjoys a 15-point lead with women, while Romney is ahead by seven points among men, 51 to 44 percent, virtually unchanged from last month. Mr. Obama has a nearly two to one lead with unmarried women, but married women are more divided in their vote preferences.
I’m inclined to think that Ohio is going to be close all the way to the election. But I’m also inclined to think that the electorate will be more than 26% Republican. That’s the sample in this poll, which has a laughable D/R/I of 35/26/34. In 2008, the D/R/I was 39/31/30, while in 2010 it was 36/37/28. We have plenty of data on enthusiasm in this election cycle, precisely none of which points to an 11-point drop in Republican participation in two years in this race.
Yet, with a D+9 advantage and Republicans only at 26% of the sample, Obama can only muster a 5-point lead in the topline. That was his margin of victory in 2008 in Ohio, by the way, but Obama won Ohio independents by eight points in that election. In this poll, he’s down seven points, a fifteen-point flip in the gap. That’s the most telling indicator thus far, and the one that cuts through the sampling biases.
I’m inclined to wait for better sampling to determine which direction Ohio may go, but at least the CBS/Q-poll confirms that momentum has swung Romney’s way in the state.