Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Obama / Romney Ceilings in Virginia using past turnout

Gov. Bob McDonnell and Michele Bachmann join Mitt Romney on stage at a rally in Portsmouth, Virginia last May. Photo courtesy of Mark Makela/Reuters
Quinnipiac University has released their final round of swing state polling in Virginia, Ohio, and Florida, and the top lines aren't very pretty for Mitt Romney. Specifically, in the state of Virginia, Obama leads Romney by two points, 49-47%. But a glance at the internals should raise some eye brows. First of all, how does Obama manage to beat Romney in the state of Virginia while losing Independent voters by a 57-36% margin, or 21 points? Simple: by finding a Virginia electorate that is even MORE Democratic than the electorate that voted in 2008. Quinnipiac's party ID finding for their final Virginia poll is 35% Democrat, 27% Republican, 35% Independent, or D+8. In 2008, turnout was D+6 (39D/33R/27I).

Who are we to argue with poll findings? But I would propose that Quinnipiac's party ID findings certainly represent Obama's ceiling in Virginia, and probably Romney's floor.

What would Mitt Romney's ceiling look like in Virginia, using the Quinnipiac poll findings? Given that no statewide election was held in Virginia in 2010, I'll look to the 2009 Governor's race and the 2004 Presidential race for a example of Mitt Romney's ceiling in Virginia. In both years, Virginia turnout was R+4.
Here is what the Quinnipiac poll would look like reweighted to 2009/2004 Virginia turnout.

Quinnipiac poll weighted to 2009 Virginia turnout:

Party ID        Obama                    Romney

33D              31.68  (96%)            0.99    (3%)
37R               2.22    (6%)             34.41  (93%)
30I                10.8    (36%)           17.1    (57%)
                      44.7%                        52.5%

As you can see, Romney has a higher ceiling in Virginia than Obama, when considering the possible ranges of turnout based on past exit polling. If Quinnipiac's numbers are otherwise correct, than Obama has a ceiling in Virginia of about 49-47%. However, if Mitt Romney sees turnout comparable to 2004 or 2009, his ceiling is much higher. He would lead the Q-poll in such a scenario 53-45%.

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