President Obama hasn't been cool on college campuses for months, so you could hardly expect young people to be excited to vote for the so-four-years-ago president. But poll numbers showing a 28 percentage point drop in enthusiasm among Democrats under 30 should alarm Obama's reelection campaign -- those youngsters helped him win in 2008, and they'd be the ones with the free time to volunteer in the fall. Here's our guide to today's polls and which ones matter.
Methodology: Telephone interviews with 1,014 adults nationwide from February 16 to February 19.
Why it matters: If they're not even excited to vote themselves, will young folks bother to try to convince their grandmas in Florida to vote for Obama? Republicans, meanwhile, experienced a dip in enthusiasm a couple months ago, but have bounced back. After being thrilled to vote in October 2011, Republican enthusiasm sunk to 49 percent in December, just 5 points above Democrats'.
Caveat: "There is plenty of time between now and this November for voter enthusiasm to change, particularly once a GOP nominee is determined and the focus moves to the general election," Gallup says.
Methodology: Robo-calls to 1,000 likely Republican primary voters on February 29.
Why it matters: It's the first poll since Romney's victories in Michigan and Arizona. Earlier this month, Rasmussen found Santorum polling at 39 percent, Romney at 27 percent. As The Hill's Christian Heinze points out, when voters chose just between those two candidates, Romney crushes Santorum 50 percent to 38 percent. Michigan might have been Santorum's "last opportunity to deliver a knockout blow" to Romney, The New York Times' Nate Silver writes, because it "could have provided unambiguous evidence that the Republican electorate was rejecting him." Only a couple states, Illinois and Maryland, could come close to having the same "narrative consequences," Silver says.
Caveat: Rasmussen leans right.
Pollster: Middle Tennessee State University
Methodology: Telephone interviews of 646 Tennessee Republicans from February 13 to February 25.
Why it matters: Super Tuesday is Gingrich's last stand. He's said he must win neighboring Georgia. But he needs to do well in more than one state, obviously. Romney thinks he can at least get some delegates from those states -- he's campaigning there this weekend, ABC News reports.
Caveat: The poll was conducted before Romney won in Michigan and Arizona -- and even partly before the last primary debate.
Pollster: Pew Research Center
Methodology: Survey of 1,501 adults nationwide from February 8 to February 12.
Why it matters: Rick Santorum called President Obama a "snob" for saying all Americans should pursue at least a year of higher education. While the benefits of calling Democrats snooty have been known for years, being anti-college doesn't appear to be a winning strategy. That's probably why Santorum has suddenly started talking about all the post-grad degrees earned by his grandmother. Even so, he was booed at Belmont University Thursday, ABC News reports.
Caveat: Higher ed is not going to be a big issue in the election.