Polls: Obama Up Big in Three Key States, But...

Guy Benson
Posted: Aug 01, 2012 11:44 AM

Maybe Mitt Romney should just spare everyone a whole lot of grief -- and cash -- and concede the presidential race now.  He's doomed, I tell you.  Doomed:

President Obama holds significant leads over Mitt Romney in three crucial battleground states, hitting the critical 50 percent threshold in each, according to new Quinnipiac University/CBS News/New York Times polls released early Wednesday that show the president performing virtually equally among the key groups that will determine his prospects for earning a second term. Obama leads Romney by 6 percentage points in both Florida and Ohio, while in Pennsylvania, traditionally a more Democratic-leaning state, he leads by a robust 11 points. Moreover, the polls show that relatively few voters say they are undecided or might change their minds. Just 5 percent in each state said they would choose another candidate or were undecided, while only around 10 percent of those who did choose either Obama or Romney said they might change before the election.

Well, there you have it.  Obama leads by six in Florida and Ohio, and by 11 in Pennsylvania.  These numbers are among likely voters, too, very few of whom are undecided or likely to change their minds.  If these figures accurately reflect swing-state electorates, Romney's toast.  But do they?  Obama won all three states in 2008 -- by three, four-and-a-half, and ten points, respectively.  So the Quinnipiac/NYT/CBS pollster anticipates that he'll expand his victory margin in all three states, doubling his win total in Florida.  Quite a feat for a guy who's job appoval rating is in the mid-40s nationally, and much worse on the economy and among independents.  How, pray tell, does he pull it off?  Through insanely busted poll samples, that's how.  Ed Morrissey put together a useful data chart to help illustrate this point.  The first set of numbers represents the new surveys' D/R/I sample breakdown, followed by the actual partisan turnout from the last two election cycles:

Florida: CBS/NYT 36/27/32 (D+9) - 2008 37/34/29 (D+3) - 2010 36/36/29 (Even)

Ohio: CBS/NYT 35/27/32 (D+8) - 2008 39/31/30 (D+8) - 2010 36/37/28 (R+1)

Pennsylvania: CBS/NYT 38/32/26 (D+6) - 2008 44/37/18 (D+7) - 2010 40/37/23 (D+3)

Let me first stipulate that Pennsylvania is a very steep climb for Republicans.  Yes, the GOP won several major statewide races there in 2010 (and picked up five House seats), but the Keystone State has been trending blue in presidential years for decades.  This Q-poll's D+6 sample may be slightly exaggerated, but it's at least in the ballpark.  Barring an unexpected wave, Romney will struggle to win Pennsylvania.  The other two states' numbers, on the other hand, are preposterous.  Barack Obama won the Buckeye State by 4.5 points last time, underperforming his D+8 turnout advantage in the strongest Democrat year in recent memory.  Quinnipiac/NYT/CBS not only keeps that partisan edge steady at D+8 in their new poll (apparently unfazed by the R+1 electorate in Ohio in 2010), it also projects that Obama will tack two additional points onto his winning margin in that state.  In Florida, the results reek even worse.  Obama carried the state by three points in the big blue wipeout of 2008, thanks in part to a D+3 turnout.  This poll triples Democrats' turnout edge to nine points, and -- surprise, surprise -- Obama's "lead" doubles over his '08 percentage. All of this data should be considered against the backdrop of Gallup's latest voter enthusiasm model, which shows Republicans much more motivated to vote in 2012 than Democrats.  Ed sums things up well:  "In other words, these polls are entirely predictive if one believes that Democrats will outperform their turnout models from the 2008 election in Florida and Ohio...CBS/NYT polling: New partner, same issues."

UPDATE - Breitbart's John Nolte throws another wrench into the Q-poll numbers:

Today, Gallup released new job approval polls taken in all fifty states with the headline: "Thirteen States and DC Give Obama Majority Approval." You can also read that as "Obama Below Majority Approval In 37 States". The problem for Obama is that his approval numbers are only above 50% in states we already know he's going to win in November. But in the swing states he must take in order to win the opportunity to finish the job of destroying our country, the President is well below 50.

Iowa, Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania -- 46%.

Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina -- 45%

Ohio -- 44%.

Colorado, New Hampshire -- 43%.

Gallup explains how dire these numbers are for Obama: "The 50% approval mark is significant because post-World War II incumbent presidents who have been above 50% job approval on Election Day were easily re-elected. Presidents with approval ratings below 50% have more uncertain re-election prospects. Historically, two presidents below 50% in their final approval rating before the election -- George W. Bush and Harry Truman -- won, and three, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H.W. Bush, lost."

Based on Gallup's numbers, the Quinnipiac/NYT/CBS poll would suggest that Obama is outperforming his job approval level by six points in both Ohio and Florida.  Not bloody likely.  John Podhoretz piles on:

The poll has the president winning among independent voters in Pennsylvania by 22 points, 58-36. It is difficult to find state-by-state exit poll data from 2008, but in that triumphant year for Obama, he won independent voters nationwide by 6. More telling, in 2010, exit-poll data found Republicans winning the independent vote nationwide by 18 points. Is it even remotely possible that a poll showing what might be a 40-point swing toward Obama for independents from 2010 to 2012 is credible? The poll itself reports that Democrats outnumber Republicans in Florida by nine points. In 2008, when Obama won the state by 2.5 points, the Democratic advantage was 4 points. Do we really think there are more Democrats in Florida in 2012 than there were in 2008? Even more telling, those polled say they voted for Obama by a margin of 13 points in Florida.

Podhoretz adds a wise word of caution for Republicans: "None of this, by the way, should make Mitt Romney dismiss this poll’s results. If he were really in command in this race, he would be doing better despite the structural advantages the Q poll and others present to Democrats. Basically, there’s no evidence he’s making the sale."

UPDATE II - Jim Geraghty calls out Quinnipiac on its own sample schizophrenia:

According to Quinnipiac, Florida has shifted from 34%GOP-31%DEM to 26%GOP-35% DEM in two months.

A 12-point swing toward Democrats in two months. Laughable.