Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Thoughts on CBS/NYTimes Polls

CBS/NYT have just released their latest polling data. From an objective standpoint, I don't believe that the data is accurately reflective of the race as it stands at the moment. These new poll results show Obama leading in Florida by 48-47%, in Ohio by 50-45% and in Virginia by 49-47%.

My issues with the results are as follows.

1) The polls also suggest that Romney is leading with Independent voters. The Virginia poll indicates Romney's lead with this voting block is significant. If this is the case, Obama cannot be ahead. Voter affiliation is broadly split about 30-35%/total affiliation- for both the Democratic Party and the GOP. Independent affiliation is estimated at around 35%/total affiliation. So... it doesn't take a genius to work out that the support of a credible majority of independent voters will lead to an overall poll majority. For me, this issue alone renders these latest polls as weak data sets.

2) Obama leading in Florida? The trends in Florida poll data over the last three weeks have shown systematic and robust movement in Romney's favor. For Obama to have retaken a lead seems to me a highly unlikely prospect. I am highly confident that Florida will go Republican on November 6th. The significant amount of time that Obama has spent in Florida recently provides a clear indication of his campaign's concern over the state.

3) The Ohio data is broadly reflective of poll data over the past few weeks. This data has indicated Obama holding a confident base margin of 3-5% points advantage over Romney. My personal belief is that Obama currently has a 1-2% point lead with likely voters who have not yet voted, but a 2-3% lead when early voters are included in a grand tally. I believe that many Ohio voters have given up answering the phone seriously when the pollsters call. It gets tedious when you get 3-4 calls a day.

CONCLUSION- Speaking to friends (both Democrat and Republican) who are engaged with ground level politics, the feeling remains that Romney has the momentum but that Obama retains a lead in Ohio. My personal belief is that Romney has a reasonable opportunity to win Ohio- but that this outcome will require the few remaining as yet undecided likely voters to join his camp. However, I also believe that Romney has a good chance at winning Wisconsin (where the GOP ground game is formidable) and Iowa (which is rural conservative). In addition, I think that Romney will win Colorado, Virginia and Florida. Having considered the polling trends over the last few weeks and having spoken to a lot of skilled politicos, I now genuinely believe that Romney has a route to the White House that does not involve Ohio. Is this route tough? Yes. Does it afford Romney room for error? No. But... is it possible? Yes.

UPDATE 11/04 - Wisconsin and Iowa look to be consolidated behind the President now. I was too optimistic about trend data vs union capacity to GOTV.

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