Mitt Romney’s Lead with Independents Downplayed by Mainstream Media

It might be time to tune out mainstream media polls. But a quick point is in order. Mitt Romney is still polling very well with independents, and Barack Obama’s post-convention bounce has evaporated.

In a WaPo/ABC poll that had Obama up by one point, Romney led independents by 11 and this group was weighted at 36% turnout among likely voters. The Republicans were weighted at 27%, which would be one of the lowest turnouts in modern election history. The Republican turnout in 2008 was 32% and it was 35% in 2010.

As anyone who actually talks to Republicans knows, they are ready to walk over hot coals to vote Barack Obama out of office. So these polls don’t even seem close to being accurate. The enthusiasm gap is the lowest among Democrats in decades, so it is hard to see how they are going to be able to outdraw voters in this Get Out the Vote or GOTV election year.

By contrast, CNN ran a particularly egregious poll that cut independents down to 5%, which gave Obama a +5 advantage. Romney led independents by +14 in the poll, so reducing the group’s weight diminished his competitiveness.

Obama has a slight lead in most polls nationwide, which is not the same thing as leading in swing states. In big states like California and New York, Obama is heavily favored, making the national polls misleading if one is solely using them to gauge the election.

Leading independents is crucial to winning swing states, and in that regard, Romney is doing fairly well. If Mitt Romney continues to show leadership tempered by humility, then he should present a favorable presidential alternative to independents in coming months.

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