Swing state polling shows dead heat, too

Earlier today, I took a look at the Associated Press poll that shows the presidential race in a virtual tie nationally.  What about the all-important swing states?  Four different pollsters look at that question today, two of which are tracking polls, and all four say … pretty much the same thing.

First, Gallup reports that Obama holds a narrow lead in their swing-state polling, but within the margin of error, leading 48/46.  Furthermore, they report that despite all of the media hype over this gaffe and that gaffe, the race hasn’t changed at all since Romney became the presumptive nominee:

Registered voters in key 2012 election swing states remain closely divided in their presidential vote preferences, with 48% supporting President Barack Obama and 46% Mitt Romney. Other than a nine-point lead for Obama in March, the two candidates have been essentially tied in the swing states throughout the campaign.

Although their graph of these results looks like a flat line since May, Gallup includes this:

Most swing-state voters, 74%, say the recent political conventions did not have much or any influence on their vote choice. But the one in four swing-state voters who said the conventions did affect their vote — either a great deal or a fair amount — are much more likely to be supporting Obama now, by 56% to 41%, providing further evidence that the Democratic convention had a greater impact than the Republican convention.


It’s been nearly two weeks since the conventions.  Where’s that impact again?

All right, what does Rasmussen say?  They have Romney up, but only by one point:

In the 11 swing states, Mitt Romney earns 47% of the vote, and the president is supported by 46%. Three percent (3%) are not sure, and four percent (4%) are undecided.

In 2008, Obama won these states by a combined margin of 53% to 46%, virtually identical to his national margin.

This is the fourth day in a row that Romney has posted a slight lead after the president’s convention bounce put him ahead for several days. The race in the swing states is now back to where it was at the beginning of the month.

In other words, the conventions didn’t have any lasting impact at all.

Next, we have USA Today, which partnered with Gallup and found a 2-point lead in the swing states — but this time for Romney:

The good news for Republican challenger Mitt Romney: After three rocky weeks, he remains within striking distance of President Obama in the battleground states that matter most. The bad news: His latest misstep could upend that.

A new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll of Swing States, completed Monday night, shows Romney lagging President Obama by only 2 percentage points, 48%-46%, well within the survey’s margin of error and a point closer than their contest last month. Nationwide, Obama’s bounce from the Democratic National Convention is dissipating: The president now leads across the country in the Gallup Poll by a single point, 47%-46%.

But the story transfixing cable newscasts and the Twitterverse on Tuesday wasn’t Romney’s recovery but his comments, captured in a secretly recorded video of a Florida fundraiser in May and posted online Monday by Mother Jones magazine. Before a wealthy audience, he dismissed (coincidentally) 47% of the electorate as people who don’t pay income taxes, lack personal responsibility, are dependent on the government and are firmly behind his opponent.

We’ll see, but that’s entirely speculative.  The poll doesn’t provide data that says “if Romney talks about dependency he’ll lose votes.”  The poll does find a “surprising number” of uncommitted voters, but they may well be turned off by Obama’s response to the death of an American ambassador in Libya, which is a bigger issue than Romney’s political analysis of his opposition.  Given that this data includes the dates of the last media freakout over Romney’s response to the Cairo embassy statement (not the Libya consulate disaster, as some media reported), the speculation of imminent disaster isn’t exactly convincing.

Lastly, we have the CBS/NYT poll of three key swing states that shows Obama leading in two — Virginia by four and Wisconsin by five — while being a one-point virtual tie in Colorado.  However, Tom Elia points out in an e-mail that the sample splits in the poll are rather absurdly tilted in the first two states.  Virginia’s sample is D+11 when the 2008 exit polling had it D+6 in a Democratic wave election.  Wisconsin’s split in this poll is D+8, when in 2008 it was also D+6, and just this year in the recall election it was R+1.  Adjusting for the sample skew, both of these states look like they’re at least dead heats.

What can we conclude?  Neither candidate is gaining traction at the moment.  We might also conclude that the undecided voters have just started taking a closer look at this race, and that we won’t see any real momentum until the debates start in two weeks.