Sunday, October 21, 2012

PPP IOWA poll better news for Romney than it appears.

Obama campaigns at a wind energy farm in Oskaloosa Iowa, Aug. 14, 2012. Photo courtesy of Carolyn Kaster, Associated Press.
PPP is out with a brand new poll of Iowa showing Obama leading Romney by 1 point, 49-48%. More fascinating than the top line itself is the fact that PPP finds Iowa likely voters identifying as 41% Democrat, 34% Republican, and 25% Independent, or D+7. This means Iowa voters are currently identifying as Democrats in a much higher proportion than they did four years ago, when Democratic enthusiasm and fervor greatly outmatched Republicans.

Why, then, is the Iowa electorate looking so significantly more Democratic in a year when most polling suggests enthusiasm lies with the GOP? The answer is far from clear, but a good argument can be made that D+7 in Iowa this November is unlikely. Look no further than 2008 Iowa exit polls, when party ID was 34D/33R/33I, or D+1. And that was in a strong Democratic year. In 2004, when George W. Bush won nationally by 2.5 points and carried Iowa 49.9 - 49.2%, turnout was R+2 (34D/36R/30I). Also, while midterms are not the best barometer for presidential turnout, the 2010 Iowa Governor's race saw an R+4 electorate (31D/35R/34I). So unless Democratic enthusiasm spikes well above 2008 levels, the D+7 electorate PPP finds in Iowa seems very unlikely.

What would the PPP poll look like if it were re-weighted to 2008 CNN exit polling?

PPP poll weighted to 2008 Iowa turnout:
Party ID        Obama                    Romney

34D              29.24  (86%)            4.42    (13%)
33R              3.3      (10%)             28.71  (87%)
33I               14.19   (43%)            16.83   (51%)
                      46.73%                    49.96%

Now you can see why this poll is better news for Mitt Romney than it might appear. If Democrats are able to repeat their 2008 turnout performance in Iowa, Romney would lead the PPP poll 50-47%. On the other end of the spectrum, assume November turnout resembles the 2010 Iowa electorate (R+4). What happens to the PPP poll when re-weighted to GOP-friendly turnout numbers?

PPP poll weighted to 2010 Iowa turnout (Governor's race):

Party ID        Obama                    Romney

31D             26.66  (86%)            4.03    (13%)
35R              3.5      (10%)            30.45  (87%)
34I               14.62   (43%)            17.34   (51%)
                      44.78%                    51.82%

 Romney would lead Obama 52-45% in the event November turnout in Iowa resembles the 2010 electorate (which funny enough is the amount Romney leads Obama by today nationally on the Gallup likely voter tracker). So the Romney campaign can take heart at the PPP result. If turnout truly is D+7 in November, Obama should be blowing Romney out of the water, and not leading by just 1 point.

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