There's a wave of bad polling news for Mitt Romney Wednesday morning. A New York Times/ CBS poll shows President Obama has the support of more than 50 percent of likely voters in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, making the electoral collage math very difficult for Romney. A Bloomberg poll shows while 53 percent of Americans disapprove of Obama's handing of the economy, they still favor Obama's economic plan over Romney's by 48 percent to 39 percent. Voters are joining conservative pundits in trashing Romney's team -- an ABC News/ Washington Post poll finds that 61 percent have an unfavorable view of his campaign. More than half -- 54 percent -- have a negative view of Romney's "47 percent" comments. So, that's pretty much the election, right? Here are two reasons why maybe not.
1. The debates. It might sound like a long shot that a big chunk of American voters will suddenly change their minds when they hear Romney take it to Obama on the unemployment rate -- but it isn't. The New Republic's William Galston says that by winning the debates, John Kerry gained 3.4 percentage points on George W. Bush in 2004, though that wasn't enough to win the election. ABC News' Michael Falcone and Amy Walter point out that in 2000, "Bush came into the debates down 8 points to Al Gore, but came out of the debate period ahead by 4 points." Ironically, that, too, wasn't enough to win the popular vote.
2. Maybe all the polls are wrong?! The idea that you can't trust the polls because they survey more Democrats than Republicans has been a conservative fixation since polls began showing a slight edge for Obama in the summer. Almost all polls find there are more Americans who say they're Democrats than there are Republicans. As The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza has explained, the reason Republicans often win anyway is that a higher percentage of them actually vote. Pew Research Center puts the current population split at 35 percent Democrats, 33 percent independents, and 28 percent Republicans. There were more Ds than Rs even in great Republican years, like 2010. Polls show fewer Republicans and Democrats than exit polls, the Huffington Post's Mark Blumenthal says, because "Voters typically express a slightly greater sense of partisanship moments after voting than they do weeks or months before voting." And then there's a factor Republicans have been fretting about all year -- the growing Latino population is looking more and more Democratic. The number of Latinos who voted in 2008 was 9.7 million -- 2 million more than voted in 2004. About 12 million are expected to vote this year. Latino Decisions' tracking poll finds Obama beating Romney among Latinos by 69 percent to 24 percent.
But for conservative skeptics, a new site, UnSkewedPolls.com, re-weights the polls to make the electorate more Republican, producing a huge Romney lead (seen at left). You probably shouldn't put too much faith in that analysis. The Weekly Standard's Jay Cost makes the most convincing case that the polls showing Obama with the widest lead are guessing Democratic turnout levels will be as high as they were in 2008. "All I can do is look back through history, where I see on average a nationwide Democratic identification edge of about 3 points, which is also roughly the midpoint between 2004 and 2008," Cost writes. "That is my guess about 2012. It is an informed guess, but it is still a guess." He notes that Obama is still not winning among independents.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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