by Benjamin J. Kirby
If you're watching the polls in this race, it was a really bad day in what has already been a bad week for Mitt Romney.
First of all, I once again encourage you to get the PollTracker app for your smartphone from Talking Points Memo, if you haven't already. It is fantastic. I love it. It gives me alerts when there's new poll information out that is of interest to me. Usually this is a one, maybe two updates a day. Not much more.
Tonight I had a series of alerts on the phone with polling updates -- all of them were bad for Romney.
I'll get to that, but first a quick detour over to Gallup, where they show President Obama leading by just a bit in swing states, 48% to 46%. It is interesting to note that as many as one in five voters in swing states could still change their minds...
Twenty-two percent of swing-state voters are either undecided (5%) or say there is at least a slight chance (17%) they may change their vote preference between now and the election, underscoring the competitiveness of the election and the uncertainty about its ultimate outcome.
That 22% of swing-state voters includes 10% who currently support Obama and 7% who now prefer Romney.
...and let's face facts: there's still plenty of time for them to do just that.
It's worth your time to head over to Pew Research and read their piece today on who has stronger support. It's Obama, who they are saying is ahead by 8 points.
Not only does Obama enjoy a substantial lead in the horserace, he tops Romney on a number of key dimensions. His support is stronger than his rival’s, and is positive rather than negative. Mitt Romney’s backers are more ardent than they were pre-convention, but are still not as enthusiastic as Obama’s. Roughly half of Romney’s supporters say they are voting against Obama rather than for the Republican nominee. With the exception of Bill Clinton in 1992, candidates lacking mostly positive backing have lost in November.
Now let's go on over to Real Clear Politics. I like looking at their interactive graphic for the U.S. House and Senate. Based on a quick review of some of the races around the country, I think it would take a pretty significant political tidal wave for the Democrats to take back the House -- possible, but not very likely. At least not right now.
But like I said a minute ago, there's plenty of time...
As for the Senate, I'll go ahead and predict that the Democrats keep it. There are some competitive races out there right now, and a seat here or there will almost assuredly change hands, but nonetheless, I still think Harry Reid will be the Majority Leader after Election Day.
In campaign circles, the issue of polls that either use or don't use cell phone numbers has long been a hot topic, or at least an interesting one. Think about that for a minute: if you're a pollster, and you don't use a list that includes cell phones, what kind of response are you going to get? There have been studies (all of which I'm too lazy to link to) which have shown that you tend to get older, more conservative voters -- the kind with the actual "home phone" installed in their house.
Duncan and I don't have a "home" phone, by the way. Just our two cell phones. That's it. I know a lot of folks who are just the same.
So this sort of tracks with Nate Silver's piece which explains that Obama's national lead looks a lot stronger in polls conducting using cell phone numbers.
In this universe [polling which includes cell phone users], Mr. Obama seems poised for victory. The model forecasts him for a 4.1 percentage points win in the national popular vote. That compares with 2.9 percentage points in the regular FiveThirtyEight forecast, which includes polls both with and without cellphones.
Mr. Obama’s advantage is also clearer in the swing states. The cellphone-inclusive polls give him an 80 percent chance to win Virginia, a 79 percent chance in Ohio, and a 68 percent chance to win Florida, all considerably higher than in the official FiveThirtyEight forecast.
Finally, back to Talking Points Memo.
First of all, there's a Quinnipiac Poll which shows Tim Kaine up by 7 in his race for U.S. Senate in Virginia. That's good news in terms of Democrats keeping the Senate.
In other U.S. Senate polling news, Bill Nelson is establishing a large lead here in Florida over Connie Mack.
Another alert said there was a FOX News (yeah, you read that right) poll showing Obama up in Virginia, Ohio and again here in Florida.
President Obama leads in the crucial swing states of Ohio, Virginia and Florida, according to new state polling of likely voters from Fox News. Obama leads Republican nominee Mitt Romney by the same margin in Ohio and Virginia, 49 percent to 42 percent, and has a 49 percent to 44 percent edge over Romney in Florida.
Those are significant margins.
Yet another alert said Obama is up by 14 in Wisconsin -- don't forget, that's Veep Nominee Paul Ryan's home state.
Obama is also leading Romney in Romney's native state of Michigan, too.
In closing, let's just remember what polls are: snapshots in time. This has been a bad week for Romney -- maybe the worst of his campaign. On top of it, my guess is people are feeling a little burned out on politics right now. We just went through the Conventions, and we still have debates to go through -- starting in just a couple of weeks.
Today, at least, November seems a long way off. There is still plenty of time. So keep watching.