Q-poll shows Romney 7 back in ... New Jersey

Somehow, this doesn’t look like a convention bounce for Barack Obama, either. According to Quinnipiac’s first likely-voter look at New Jersey — a state Obama won in 2008 by fifteen points — Mitt Romney comes in only seven points back, with a narrow lead among independents [see update below]:

President Barack Obama tops Gov. Mitt Romney, his Republican challenger, 51 – 44 percent among New Jersey likely voters, who say the president will do a better job on Medicare and health care while Romney will do a better job on the economy, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

This is the first measure of New Jersey likely voters by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University and can not be compared to earlier surveys of registered voters.

The gender and racial gaps are wide as Obama leads 57 – 38 percent among women and 92 – 3 percent among blacks. Romney leads 51 – 44 percent among men and 54 – 41 percent among white voters. Romney has a thin 48 – 44 percent lead among independent voters.

New Jersey voters give Obama a 52 – 44 percent favorability, while Romney has a 43 – 41 percent score. Vice President Joseph Biden gets a 44 – 41 percent favorability. U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, Romney’s running mate, has a split 33 – 34 percent favorability, with 33 percent who don’t know enough about him to form an opinion.

Readers may be wondering about the sample split — and they should.  The D/R/I in this poll is weighted out to 34/26/36 — and that may be a little too generous to Republicans.  In 2008, Obama won the state by 15 with exit polling showing a turnout model of 44/28/28.  A year later, Chris Christie beat the Obama-backed Jon Corzine in the gubernatorial election, and in 2010 New Jersey didn’t have a Senate race at stake, so I’ve been unable to find any exit polling since 2008 to judge the turnout model for this election.  Quinnipiac looks like it’s a reasonable model, but it’s ten points lower for Democrats than in 2008, and that seems a little pessimistic for Obama in the Democrat-heavy Garden State.

Interestingly, while Obama won New Jersey by 15 in 2008, he only beat John McCain among independents by four, 51/47.  An eight-point swing in this demo would tend to erode the overall lead, but wouldn’t be decisive if the turnout model remains the same as 2008.

If this poll provides an accurate look at the race in New Jersey, Obama might need to spend some money there to solidify his hold on it.  Seven points would be tough for Romney to overcome, but it’s not impossible.  More to the point, though, is the drop in standing of Obama in what is almost always a safe Democratic state — and that may indicate that less-safe blue states (Pennsylvania, perhaps?) might be even more at risk.

Update: For some reason, this poll appears on Quinnipac’s RSS feed today — but the poll was released on September 6th.  I’ve never noticed a delay in the RSS feed publication like that for Quinnipiac, but I will keep a closer eye on it in the future.  The poll was taken before the Democratic convention.