The analysis here is important. This is not meant to create a positive scenario for conservatives that doesn’t exist. The point is to look at polling data objectively. What you find is that polls that show a clear advantage for Obama do so based on the fact that the samples used for those results predict turnout for Republicans to be lower than anything recorded, and Democratic turnout better. We look at the data to reflect a more likely scenario of voter turnout based on actual data from the previous four election cycles. This includes 2 Democratic years (2006 and 2008) sandwiched in between 2 Republican years (2004 and 2010). The turnout for the most recent election had Republicans making up 37% of the electorate in Ohio, and Democrats making up 36%. Keep that in mind as we look at the following polls.
FOX News Poll: Obama Up 7?
A FOX News poll finds that Obama has a 49-42% lead over Mitt Romney. That 7-point “lead” for Obama is greater than Ohio victory over McCain in 2008, a pretty astonishing feat given Obama’s rapidly dissipating advantages. So, let’s skip to the data. First we find that Romney is ahead by 4 with Independents, an important block that Obama had won by 8 four years earlier. We haven’t even dug in deep yet and somehow a 12-point swing In Romney’s favor among Independents translates into Romney losing bigger than McCain did. Does that sound logical?When you rerun the numbers using a more likely turnout scenario of both parties from the 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2010 election cycles you find that Obama’s lead has shrunk 6 points, to 46-45%. So, if you believe that the Democratic turnout will be at least as good as it was in 2010 (despite all evidence to the contrary) then Obama is up 7. If you prefer to look at the data, then the two races are essentially tied.
Marist Poll: Obama Up 7 Again?
A separate Marist poll finds that Obama also has a 7 point lead over Romney among likely voters. Their published analysis is little more than to say “clearly Obama wins Ohio” and then call it a day. But what’s inside the book is a lot more interesting than the cover. The likely voter sample is 38% Democratic and just 28% Republican. To take the headline-making results at face value is to assume that the Democratic advantage in Ohio will be even greater than it was in 2008, the biggest outlier in recent presidential election history. The 38% mark for Democrats is higher than the parties 4-cycle average, while the Republicans 28% is down 9 full points from 2010, and even 3 points worse than 2008.
A breakdown of how each party voted was not provided so the data can’t be re-analyzed, but it’s a pretty safe bet that rerunning the numbers to a more realistic scenario would show a dead heat for Romney, and given the D+10 disparity, he would probably even have a slight lead. Remember, this poll had 28% Republicans while the turnout for Republicans has been 37% (2010), 31% (2008), 36% (2006), and 40% (2004) in recent elections.
American Research Group: Too Close To Call or Romney Landslide?The most astonishing poll findings come from American Research Group, showing Obama with a too-close-to-call 48-47% lead on Romney. But the internals show that Romney is actually crushing Obama in Ohio, if they are correct. According to ARG, Romney picks up 95% of Republican voters, 7% of Democrats, and leads Obama among Independents 53-37%. Obama does significantly worse among his own base (90%) and at picking up Republicans (3%). If Romney maintains those internal numbers, Ohio isn’t even close. Oh but wait, the "official" result shows that Obama is up 1?
That Independent number is crucial. In 2010, John Kasich defeated incumbent Democrat Ted Strickland by two points overall, and won Independents by the exact 53-37% margin shown in the ARG poll. While Romney is polling exactly equal to Kasich in Independents, he is far out-performing Kasich among Republicans and Democrats. So how is Obama ahead at all? Once again, the Democratic sample is 42% and the Republican sample is 32%. So, yes, if the Democrat advantage over Republicans is at a never-seen-before 42%, with a +10 voter advantage once again, then Obama is up 1. Re-run the data to a weighted sample reflective of voter turnout, and Romney has 52% to Obama at 44%
What Will Turnout in Ohio Be?
Three headlines show that Obama has leads of 7, 7, and 1 in Ohio. Obama won Ohio by 4.5 points in 2008. He outspent McCain by almost 2-1 in the state ($26M to $14M). Romney has money, and may even outspend Obama in Ohio the rest of the way. McCain had no ground game then, Romney has a lot of ground game now. Obama had gigantic leads in voter enthusiasm in 2008. The tingles are gone, the economy is worse, Obamacare is still hated, and Republicans have surged in electoral victories in 2009, 2010, and 2012 - including in Ohio.
The data actually shows the two seven-point races are closer to ties, and data from the third poll shows Romney is up by 8 points. There is no guarantee that 2012 turnout will be closer to 2004, 2006, and 2010? But it’s a safe bet that the turnout advantage for Democrats will not mirror 2008, much less surpass it. These voter swings typically happen in cycles, and if the mood in 2012 is similar to the mood in 2010 (or, heck, just the average of the last 4 elections), then the actual data shows that the Republican tickets in Ohio are either in a dead heat or ahead. Does anyone believe that the Democratic turnout advantage in Ohio will be greater than it was in 2008? That’s what the poll headlines show. The data show otherwise.