Monday, September 17, 2012

A new poll in Virginia, Obama's advantage, and the three keys to Republican success in 2012

By Michael J.W. Stickings

A new PPP poll has Obama up by five over Romney in Virginia, 51 to 46. (A recent NBC/WSJ/Marist poll has him up by five, 49 to 44, among likely voters, and seven among registered voters.) And things appear to be relatively stable there:

Obama's lead is unchanged from a month ago when we found him leading 50-45 in the state. He may not be seeing a bump from the convention in the state at this point, but he was in a pretty good position to begin with.

Virginia continues to look like it may be something of a firewall state for Obama. PPP has now polled it 9 times this cycle, and President Obama has led by at least 4 points on all 9 of the polls. He's been ahead by 5 points, 5 points, 8 points, and 8 points over the course of the four surveys we've conducted in 2012.

And this is particularly interesting:

One thing playing to Democrats' advantage in Virginia is that their voters are actually more excited than Republicans about the election now, contrary to the conventional wisdom for most of this cycle. 73% of Democrats say they're 'very excited' about voting this fall compared to 63% of GOP voters. Women (64%) are more enthusiastic about voting than men (60%), African Americans (85%) are more excited than white voters (57%), and  young voters (72%) are more excited than seniors (62%).

Behind in the polls, Romney has had a few things in his favor throughout the campaign, namely a) the still-struggling economy; b) voter enthusiasm on the right; and c) voter suppression (with Republicans all across the country trying to disenfranchise likely Democratic voters, or at least trying to make it as difficult for them to vote as possible).

As it stands now, while a) is still a problem for the president, Romney lags behind Obama in terms of who is perceived by voters to be better on the economy, this despite Romney slamming the president on the economy and playing himself up as the sort of business-savvy manager the country apparently needs at this challenging time. Romney just doesn't have all that much credibility on the economy, and voters seems to understand that Bush left Obama with a disaster of economy that takes a lot more than four years to fix.

Meanwhile, b) appears to be reversing, or at least equalizing, particularly in the wake of the extremely successful Democratic convention in Charlotte earlier this month. Democrats are enthused now, and rightly so.

That leaves c), meaning that Romney's best chance to win may rest with ongoing Republican efforts to strip the vote from as many people as possible, claiming that fraud is widespread (it isn't) and that non-citizens are on the rolls (they aren't in significant numbers, and the people being targeted are U.S. citizens). Understandably, Romney has distanced himself from these efforts by not commenting on them -- wink-wink, nudge-nudge -- but of course he stands to benefit immensely from them, as do Republicans generally.

Yes, Republicans, Romney included, seem to think that the best way to win is to thwart democracy. They may very well be right.

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