Tuesday night's elections offer concrete evidence for polls showing Republican voters are comparatively less enthusiastic about doing their Democratic duty this year. They appear to have, in Army parlance, lost their hooah. Will they get it back by November? Our guide to today's polls and which ones matter.
Pollster: Public Policy Polling/ Daily Kos
Methodology: Robocalls to 1000 registered voters from January 26 to January 29.
Why it matters: Turnout for the Republican primaries this year seems to prove this poll true, PPP's Tom Jensen writes. In the last five Republican contests, turnout has dropped from 2008 levels. It was down 7 percent in Colorado, 24 percent in Minnesota, and 57 percent in Missouri, First Read says. It was down in Nevada and Florida, too, and flat in Iowa. "The 10 Super Tuesday contests next month should offer a clearer look at the mood of the electorate – but for now, it seems that enthusiasm among GOP base voters is mixed at best," The Washington Post's Felicia Sonmez writes.
Caveat: Just because voters stayed home in February doesn't mean they will in November, Politico's Maggie Haberman says. PPP leans left (as does Daily Kos, obviously).
Pollster: Detroit Free Press/ Michigan Research & Information Service
Methodology: Survey of 638 likely primary voters on February 2.
Why it matters: Michigan votes February 28. Romney needs a victory to make everyone forget how bad he lost Tuesday night. It's his home state, and where his father was governor. But Santorum seems to think he has a chance. "We think Michigan's a great place for us to plant our flag and talk about jobs and manufacturing -- giving opportunities for everybody in America to rise," he said on MSNBC Wednesday morning. NBC News' First Read says Santorum probably thinks he's got some blue collar appeal in Michigan, while he realizes that campaigning in the other state that votes that day, Arizona, might not pay off. In Arizona, second place gets zero delegates.
Caveat: Romney was polling way ahead of Santorum in Colorado on Tuesday. He did not win.
Pollster: Quinnipiac University
Methodology: Interviews with 1,544 registered voters, some of them cell phone users, from February 1 to February 6.
Why it matters: In December, the Obama reelection campaign told reporters it sees five ways it can get a winning number of electoral votes. One of them was to win North Carolina and Virginia. But back then, that looked pretty difficult, with the president's approval rating at 43 percent. And, as NBC News' Domenico Montanaro points out, two months ago Romney was beating Obama in Virginia by 44 percent to 42 percent. Montanaro notes that the change in Obama's standing is thanks to women (who like him better by 9 points compared to December) and independents (who like him better by 4 points than they did then).
Caveat: Virginians still disapprove of Obama's job performance by 49 percent to 46 percent approving of it.
Pollster: Washington Post/ ABC News
Methodology: Survey of 1,000 adults, including some who only use cell phones, from February 1 to February 4.
Why it matters: "Attacking Obama’s national security policies, the poll suggests, may do more harm than good to Republican presidential candidates at a time when many Americans favor a national security approach that relies more on technology than troops," The Washington Post's Scott Wilson and Jon Cohen write. (Sidenote: Noting the Virginia poll above, it's worth remembering that the northern part of the state is home to America's defense industry.)
Caveat: Outside events -- like, say, an Israeli strike on Iran -- could change the way Americans see Obama's handling of foreign policy.