ELECTIONATE AUGUST 21, 2012
On balance, the four national polls showed no shift from their prior results. The NBC/WSJ poll shows Obama with a four point advantage, down from 6 prior to the Ryan pick. For those who might recall the big discussion over party-ID after the last NBC/WSJ poll, you might note that the Democratic edge is down to a more modest 6 points, yet the result didn’t change too much. The bottom line is that we head into the convention just about where we started: Obama up 4 among registered voters. The poll also showed Obama leading among high-intensity voters, which would leave him poised to maintain the lead after a switch to the likely voter model. Some were amused by Obama's 94-0 lead among African American voters, but that was probably bound to happen at some point, given his 95-5 victory in the 2008 exit polls and the small African American subsamples in most surveys.
There were, however, some telling results. Perhaps no question captures the heart of this election more than the disconnect between the 43 percent of voters currently saying Obama deserves reelection and the 48 percent offering him their support in a head to head match-up against Romney. Along the same lines, voters say they’re hearing more negative things about Romney than positive things. Romney’s favorability numbers are underwater and there’s just nothing that’s moving them in the right direction.
One number that will get way too much attention: Obama’s double-digit lead on the issue of Medicare. Not only are there issues about the framing of the question, but only 50 percent of voters said they trusted Obama more on Medicare than Romney. That’s just 2 points better than his share of the vote on an issue that Democrats historically do quite well on.
The big state number is PPP showing Romney ahead in Wisconsin. We’ll see whether that bonus lasts through Election Day, but if we didn’t have enough evidence to call the state a true battleground, we do now. Intriguingly, neither campaign is yet on the air in the Badger State. I suspect that will change after the conventions.
I think it’s worth grouping the Michigan and Georgia poll as one collective example of how sometimes you can just get some off polling results. In the case of the Michigan poll, it's also an example of the challenges of sampling younger voters, since their respondents were much older and whiter than the eventual Michigan electorate.
Odds and Ends
--Tropical Storm Isaac formed at 5PM and it has a chance to interfere with next week’s GOP convention in Tampa. The National Hurricane Center forecasts that Isaac will become a hurricane over the next forty-eight hours and move in the general direction of the Gulf of Mexico and Florida over the next five days. Given the considerable uncertainty in forecasting the intensity and trajectory of tropical cyclones beyond five days, the storm is hardly assured to make its presence known in Tampa, but it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on.