New Florida poll shows vindication of Eastwood Strategy

Feel lucky, punk?  When Republicans chose Tampa as the site for the 2012 national convention, they didn’t do it for the weather, obviously.  They saw Florida as a key to their hopes of winning the presidential election and hoped to make an impact on voters with their week-long argument for Republican control of the White House.  According to a snap poll from Survey USA of 754 registered voters who watched the final night of the convention, they may have switched 10% of the vote with the effort:

1,211 adults were interviewed statewide 08/31/12, after Romney, Florida’s Marco Rubio and Clint Eastwood spoke to the convention 08/30/12. Of the adults, 1,100 were registered to vote in Florida. Of the registered voters, 754 heard the convention speeches. Of the convention speech watchers:

66% did not change their mind.
16% switched from “undecided” to Romney.
6% switched from Obama to Romney.
Adding those 2 together, that’s 22% who switched TO Romney.
10% switched from “undecided” to Obama.
2% switched from Romney to Obama.
Adding those 2 together, that’s 12% who switched TO Obama.
Comparing the 2 aggregate numbers: 22% switched TO Romney, 12% switched TO Obama.

There is, however, a big caveat in this figures, which is that the people who watched the convention on the final night were still more Republican than the general population.  The D/R/I of this sample was 24/48/27, and the D/R/I of the 2010 midterms was 36/36/29.  That’s still significantly less Republican than I would have thought for a convention audience, and this might well be the first datum of success for the Clint Eastwood strategy.  Another data point would be the saturation among registered voters in Florida for the final night; in this survey, nearly 69% of registered voters in Florida tuned in.  That’s a pretty remarkable reach, and if that’s the case around the country, I’d say that Team Romney and the RNC won big.

Here’s another data point, too: the split among Florida voters to Eastwood’s speech was 49% positive to only 24% negative by the next day — presumably even after the avalanche of criticism for it.  The overall split is positive in almost all demos except Democrats (30/45) and liberals (26/58).  Majorities of independents (51/26), seniors (54/20), men (54/24) approved of it, but the biggest positive response came from Hispanics, 62/21 — even better than Republicans (58/12).  Even women (44/25) and black voters (43/37) liked Eastwood’s extemporaneous riff on President Obama.

The ultimate question, though, is whose minds were changed — and that looks bad for Obama almost along the same lines.  The aggregate numbers are shown above, but here are some key breakdowns in the demos, which we’ll calculate by adding those switching from either undecided or Obama to Romney, and those switching from undecided or Romney to Obama, in that order:

  • Men: 32/16 (Romney/Obama switchers)
  • Women: 15/9
  • 18-34YOs: 29/15
  • Black: 38/19
  • Hispanic: 25/17
  • Independent: 37/23

One last caveat: those tuning in among those demos would tend to be a little self-selecting as having an open enough mind to be convinced to switch.  Still, it’s pretty clear that at least in Florida, Eastwood not only got people to tune in, he got them to enjoy the evening and perhaps open their mind to support Mitt Romney.  If I’m Mitt Romney, I’d say that this makes my day.

Update: I should probably also mention some of the reaction to the speeches of Romney and Rubio.  Let’s start with the positive/negative of Romney:

  • Overall: 64/23
  • Women: 62/26
  • 18-34YOs: 51/39
  • Black: 54/36
  • Hispanic: 65/19
  • Independent: 54/24

And for Rubio, the numbers are even better:

  • Overall: 67/19
  • Women: 66/20
  • 18-34YOs: 57/31
  • Black: 55/37
  • Hispanic: 76/15
  • Independent: 61/21

If Eastwood did indeed drive viewership, these numbers will be key in the weeks ahead for this swing state.

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