I had to smile on Saturday when I saw that a Public Policy Polling survey showed Mitt Romney within one point of President Obama in Ohio. It’s not just that a Democratic polling firm says it’s a one-point race in what seems to have become Obama’s one-state firewall, although that is significant; the sample breakdown indicates that their sample consisted of 42% Democrats and only 34% Republicans. This eight-point Democratic advantage is consistent with 2008 exit poll results from the Buckeye State, but given that both parties have lost ground among registered voters, who increasingly identify as "independent", it’s difficult to understand why PPP (or any pollster, for that matter) would survey a greater percentage of political partisans and a smaller percentage of self-described independents when compared to the 2008 electorate.
In other polling news, four national polls out this morning all show Romney leading Obama. He's up by three points in the latest Monmouth University poll, 48% to 45% for Obama. The Rasmussen Tracking Poll and Politico/GWU/Battleground Poll both have him ahead by two, 49%-47%. Gallup's tracking poll continues to give Romney his largest lead, 51 to 45 percent. It would be easy to dismiss that as an outlier, but in addition to being the most experienced and reputable outfit in this field, Gallup also has a pretty good track record in recent elections. On October 20, 2008, they showed Obama leading McCain by seven points among likely voters; he won the election by seven points nationally. On October 24, 2004, they had George W. Bush leading John Kerry, 51% to 46%. President Bush won re-election with 51% of the popular vote; Kerry received 48%. So, despite the naysayers trying to discredit this enduring monument of polling, recent history indicates that their presidential election polls conducted around this time in elections past closely line up with the eventual outcome.
What should really trouble the Obama campaign and their supporters is the trend in some of these polls (or, in the case of Rasmussen, which hasn't shown the president leading Romney in two weeks, the lack of one). The Governor's two-point lead in the Politico poll represents a three-point swing from last week, when they had the president up by one point, 49% to 48%. Monmouth's poll shows that Romney is up a point and Obama has dropped a point from their last survey, which showed the Republican leading, 47% to 46%. The candidates are tied nationally in the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll at 47 percent, but that's a decline in Obama's poll position from their previous national survey, which had the president ahead with 49% of the vote to 46% for Mitt Romney. Not only does this show the lack of any measurable "bounce" from the second debate for Obama, but it crystallizes his dismal (for an incumbent) poll position, well below 50% with fifteen days to go before Election Day and early voting already underway.