A Flea in the Fur of the Beast

“Death, fire, and burglary make all men equals.” —Dickens

Tag: mitt romney debate

Breaking Down The Crosstabs Of The Crosstabs Of Obama’s Debate Win

by evanmcmurry

Public Policy Polling has Obama winning tonight’s debate, 53-42.

But! Looking at the crosstabs, this part is much more worrisome for Obama:

Q4 Did tonight’s debate make you more or less likely to vote for Barack Obama, or did it not make a difference?

More likely                                 37%
Less likely                                  31%
Didn’t make a difference           30%
Not sure                                       2% 

Q5 Did tonight’s debate make you more or less likely to vote for Mitt Romney, or did it not make a difference?

More likely                                  38%
Less likely                                   35%
Didn’t make a difference            26%
Not sure                                       1%

So for all that Obama won the debate, he didn’t bring voters over; they ended moving as much for Romney as for Obama. If you buy the narrative that Romney has the “momentum” of the race—a highly contestable theory, but one with a lot of believers—then Obama did nothing tonight to change that.

But! Most polling indicates that the race has stabilized, and while Obama and Romney are tied nationally, Obama still leads in key swing states, including Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Nevada, is tied in Virginia, and still close in Florida. Women voters are important in Ohio, elderly voters in Florida. With that in mind, take a look at these numbers:

More/Less Likely to Vote Obama?

                                              Base     Woman     Man
More likely:                           37%       40%         34%
Less likely:                            31%        29%         33%
Didn’t make a difference:      30%       31%          29%

More/Less Likely to Vote Romney?

                                              Base     Woman     Man
More likely:                           38%        36%        41%
Less likely:                            35%         38%        31%
Didn’t make a difference:      26%         25%        28%

That’s women breaking for Obama by +11, a decent margin, and leaving Romney by -2, for a total swing of 13 points. Movement like that secures a state like Ohio, and could tip a state like Virginia.

Now elderly voters:

More/Less Likely to Vote Obama?
    Base        18 to 29     30 to 45     46 to 65     Older than 65
More likely:                                 37%            35%            31%           38%               43%
Less likely:                                  31%             30%           26%           34%               32%
Didn’t make a difference:            30%            30%          40%            28%               25%
Not sure:                                      2%               5%            3%              0%                 0% 

More/Less Likely to Vote Romney?

    Base        18 to 29     30 to 45     46 to 65     Older than 65

More likely:                                 38%            50%             31%           37%             40%
Less likely:                                  35%            30%              37%          34%              36%
Didn’t make a difference:          26%             20%              31%          28%              23%
Not sure:                                      1%                 –                –               0%             1%

That’s elderly voters +11 points for Obama, the same margin by which he swayed women voters. Romney only swayed them by +4, for a total of +7 for Obama. That alone may not tip a big state like America’s Wang, but it sure keeps Florida’s 30 electoral votes in play for Obama.

Again, this debate probably won’t do much to change the overall national picture. But if you’re an Obama strategist, and you’re looking at women voters in Ohio and the Midwest in general, and elderly voters in Florida, you have to be happy with these numbers.

Postscript: What’s up with the youngins breaking for Romney by +20? Did only five of them watch the debate, two with Romney surnames?

The Two Numbers To Watch In The Post-Debate Polls

by evanmcmurry

Romney gained in numerous ways from his strong first debate performance, but the two most important were his favorability ratings and his performance among women voters. Before two weeks ago, Romney’s favorability ratings had been underwater in multiple swing states, largely due to a successful push by Obama’s campaign to paint him as a heartless, offshoring plutocrat. Romney managed to flip those numbers with his debate win, and his rise in the polls, especially in states like Florida and Pennsylvania, followed his rise in favorability ratings; only in Ohio, where the Bain attacks hit especially hard, has Romney not seen a significant increase in his favorability, though he has still gained there. Per Greg Sargeant, Romney also significantly closed the gap among women voters, which, during the legendary contraception wars of the spring of ought-12, was almost comically large.

In Tuesday night’s debate, Obama hit Romney hard in both these areas. Obama’s constant, Biden-like interruptions about the mendacity of Romney’s claims, his reminders that Romney has often held differing positions for differing audiences, his resuming the vulture capitalism trope, his Bain attacks, his nice line about Romney’s pension—all of these were in the same key as the attacks that kept Romney in the high-30s to low-40s favorability for much of the general election. Obama also brought up Planned Parenthood four times (even when it wasn’t particularly relevant); had one of his strongest answers when speaking on the Lily Ledbetter Act and women’s health access; and quite insightfully spun a question about Bush economic policies onto Romney’s arguably more extreme social policies—all points aimed at reminding women voters why they were turning from the GOP in droves a few months ago.

Last night’s debate is unlikely to change the national polling numbers—as Kevin Drum points out in a spot-on post, the national polling is exactly where we thought it would be given the dynamics of the race and is unlikely to change. But just as Romney’s general rise in the polls has been the aggregated result of specific* gains in certain categories, look for Obama’s strong debate performance to be felt not in the national poll averages but in targeted areas like Romney’s favorability and women voters—areas that, however narrow they may seem, could be pivotal in important swing states.

* The first and last time Mitt Romney benefited from specifics in this race.

Joe Biden Would Like To Interrupt This Post To Talk About Medicare

by evanmcmurry

This morning’s polling generally finds the “bleeding stemmed”—to use the agreed-upon MSM phrase—from Obama’s poor debate performance two weeks ago. In sum, Romney saw an overall lift in his positives, and he’s polling closer to Obama, but Obama has regained a couple point lead in the national polls.

As always, national polls are—not meaningless, exactly, but not revelatory either. Breakdowns in the polling, though, can tell us more: Greg Sargeant has a whole slew of areas in which Romney showed no gain since the debate, especially on the question of which candidate voters think better represents the middle class, providing an opening for Obama in tomorrow’s debate to do nothing but bring up Romney’s 47% remarks.

But in one area, Obama has actually increased his lead since the polls two weeks ago:

Obama’s advantage on who is more trusted to handle Medicare has actually gone up, from 47-43 to 53-38. This was a major topic at both debates, and recall that Joe Biden made a strong appeal to voters to trust their “instincts” on who is better for the program. [Emphasis Sargeant’s]

Recall that before the first presidential debate, Romney was losing serious ground in states like Ohio and Florida, somewhat due to Paul Ryan’s Medicare-killing inclusion on the ticket; since the debate, however, Romney’s rebounded in both states, especially in Florida. If there’s an issue that will remind Floridians why they were leaning against the Romney/Ryan ticket, it’s Medicare, and it looks like Joe Biden got that across loud and clear; in fact, it’s entirely possible that that was Biden’s primary job going into the debate last Thursday, and he smiled so much because he nailed it. It would be nice and poetic if Joe Biden interrupted Romney’s rise as figuratively as he literally interrupted Paul Ryan, and on the same issue, no less.