The big headline is that Barack Obama still leads Mitt Romney in Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin, but his advantage is shrinking:
New CBS News/New York Times/Quinnipiac University poll numbers from three important swing states show a tight presidential race getting tighter. The poll shows President Obama's lead in Florida is down to just three points. Mr. Obama had a six-point lead there at the end of July. The president is still leading Mitt Romney by six points in Ohio. In Wisconsin, home state of Romney's running mate Rep. Paul Ryan, Romney's now in a virtual tie with the president with just two points between them.
The good news for Romney is these CBS/NYT/Q-polls demonstrate that he's drawing closer to the incumbent in crucial battleground states. The better news for Republicans is that these surveys are based on flawed samples, so the Republican is likely faring better than the numbers let on. Ed Morrissey lays it out:
Let’s just cut to the chase. What do the partisan splits in the samples look like? Let’s lay out all three states and compare the D/R/I of this poll to 2008 and 2010:
Ohio: 34/26/34; 2008 39/31/30, 2010 36/37/28
Wisconsin: 32/28/33; 2008 39/33/29, 2010 37/36/28
In other words, the Florida poll sample is D+6, whereas the mean Florida electorate from 2008 and 2010 (a fair benchmark for the 2012 elctorate) was just D+1.5. That's a gap of 4.5 percentage points; (Obama leads by three). The Ohio poll is based upon a D+8 sample, whereas the mean '08/'10 hybrid Buckeye State electorate was D+3.5. Hence, a gap of 4.5 percentage points; (Obama leads by six). The Wisconsin poll sample is D+4, while the state's combined electorate was D+2.5; (Obama leads by two).
Another telling item from the internals: 2008 McCain voters are severely under-sampled in the Florida and Ohio surveys. The new poll's Florida respondents voted for Obama over McCain by a nine-point margin. The actual election result was Obama by three. The poll's Ohio respondents backed Obama vs. McCain by 13 points. The actual election result was Obama by four-and-a-half. All in all -- and based on other recent polling data -- I suspect Romney is tied or slightly ahead in Florida, tied or slightly behind in Wisconsin, and tied or slightly behind in Ohio. He'd rather be leading across the board, of course. Eleven weeks to make the sale.
UPDATE - A new USA Today/Gallup poll shows Americans souring on politics, with a record number of voters identifying as independents. Romney holds a "clear edge" on the economy, and a larger lead on deficits. Obama leads on several other issues. More voters say Obama is attacking Romney unfairly than vice versa, the GOP has an enthuisiasm advantage, and the generic Congressional ballot is exactly tied. Romney leads men by eight, Obama leads women by the same margin.