Monday, October 15, 2012

Romney performing well in Pennsylvania in 2008-style electorate

Obama, Romney at the Alfred E. Smith dinner, Oct. 18, 2012. Photo courtesy of AP Photo/Charles Dharapak
PPP just released a Pennsylvania poll showing Obama leading Romney by 7 points, 51-44%. The President led 52-40% last month. PPP also finds 48% of Pennsylvania likely voters identifying as Democrats, 37% identifying as Republican, and 15% identifying as Independent. If that finding is correct, then Pa. voters are identifying as Democrats (D+11) by the highest margin of the last 4 national elections (D+3 in 2010, D+7 in 2008, D+5 in 2006, D+2 in 2004).

Putting aside that 48% of likely Pa. voters are currently identifying as Democrats, what happens to the PPP poll if election day turnout looks more like 2008, when Democrats broke turnout records throughout the country (44D/37R/18I)?

PPP poll weighted to 2008 CNN Pennsylvania exit poll:
Party ID        Obama                    Romney

44D               34.32 (78%)             7.04   (16%)
37R               5.18  (14%)               29.97 (81%)
18I                9.18    (51%)            7.38   (41%)
                       48.68%                       44.39%

Obama's 7 point lead becomes a 49-44% lead.

Now, assume Republicans get lucky in Pa. and have an election night that resembles 2010 turnout (40D/37R/23I). Here's how the PPP poll would look:   

PPP poll weighted to 2010 CBS Pa. Gov. exit poll:

Party ID        Obama                    Romney

40D               31.2 (78%)              6.4     (16%)
37R               5.18  (14%)             29.97 (81%)
23I                11.73 (51%)             9.43   (41%)
                       48.11%                     45.8%

Obviously, applying 2010 style turnout numbers to a poll that found a D+11 electorate is going to create more favorable results for the Republican candidate. And in this case, Romney trails the President by just 2 points, 48-46%.

What will turnout in Pa. actually look like in November? Who knows? And PPP's numbers are certainly better than my guess. But I'd be willing to place bets with anyone that turnout for Democrats will be less than D+11, October 15th poll findings aside. 

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