PPP puts Obama up 5 in Ohio

Will Oiho Ohio Democrats turn out in record numbers this November, even eclipsing the 2008 wave election that allowed Barack Obama to win the state by five points in 2008?  If so, then PPP predicts a similar outcome in its latest survey of the Buckeye State, but that model might raise a few eyebrows:

PPP’s first post-conventions poll in Ohio finds Barack Obama with a 5 point lead over Mitt Romney, 50-45. This is the largest lead PPP has found for Obama in an Ohio poll since early May. Last month Obama led 48-45.

Both candidates have seen their images improve with Ohio voters in the wake of the conventions. Obama now breaks even in his approval rating at 48%, after being under water with 46% of voters approving and 51% disapproving of him a month ago. Romney’s numbers are up from a 41/52 favorability rating a month ago as well, but he still remains unpopular. Only 44% see him favorably to 49% with a negative opinion.

Romney actually leads 46-44 with independents but Obama has the overall advantage thanks to a more unified party base. He leads 86/11 with Democrats, compared to Romney’s 83/13 advantage with Republicans. Obama’s 75 point lead within his own party is up from 70 points a month ago, suggesting that his party has coalesced around him a little bit more in the wake of a successful convention. By a 47/35 margin Ohio voters say they think the Democrats had a better convention than the Republicans.

The point about independents gets to the heart of the issue with this poll.  The sample has a D/R/I split of 41/37/22.  The 37% that Republicans get in this survey matches their 2010 midterm turnout, which had a D/R/I of 36/37/28.  The 41% for Democrats significantly exceeds that turnout, and also exceeds the 2008 election’s 39/31/30 exit polling that produced the five-point margin of Obama victory in the election.

The big drop in independents from the sample is well worth noting, because Obama won Ohio independents by eight points in 2008, 52/44 — greater than his five-point margin of victory.  If Romney is up by two in this demographic, that’s a ten-point swing among what had been 28-30% of the turnout in Ohio elections.  Nothing in this poll suggests that Ohio has suddenly become a lot more Democratic except the sample itself; even in this sample, Obama’s job approval is only 48/48 (only 51/44 among women), and a -14 among independents, 40/54.

Ohio looks deadlocked if one considers the modeling used, and even perhaps edging toward Romney when looking at the independents.  I’d wait on hitting panic buttons here until seeing something with a better likely-voter model.