Election 2012

CNN’s latest poll deconstructed: Does it really show a Romney victory?

CNN’s latest poll deconstructed: Does it really show a Romney victory?

CNN released a poll this morning taken between 11/2 and 11/4. Among likely voters, it projects that the election is tied 49 percent Obama/49 percent Romney (page 2). Looking at the poll by party affiliation, it also projected that 93 percent of Democrats, 1 percent of Republicans and 37 percent of Independents would vote for Obama. On the other hand, it projects that 99 percent of Republicans, 5 percent of Democrats and 59 percent of Independents will vote for Romney (page 30).

So, if Romney has 99 percent of the Republican vote, 5 percent of the Democratic vote (Obama comparably having only 1 percent of the Republican vote) and is ahead of Obama by a very impressive 22 percent among Independents, how can the race be tied?

Well, to quote CNN: “Among those likely voters, 41 percent describe themselves as Democrats, 29 percent describe themselves as Independents and 30 percent describe themselves as Republicans.

So, let’s say we had a total of 1,000 voters, 410 Democrats, 290 Independents and 300 Republicans. Voting for President Obama, we would have 381 Democrats (93 percent of 410), 107 Independents (37 percent of 290), and 3 Republicans (1 percent of 300), for a total of 491 votes. Voting for Gov. Romney, we would have 297 Republicans (99 percent of 300), 162 Independents (56 percent of 290), and 21 Democrats (5 percent of 410) for a total of 480 votes. Both candidates’ totals would be around 49 percent as CNN projects.

Of course, this assumes that Democrats vote 11 percent more than Republicans. That’s a bigger advantage than Democrats had in the 2008 in the midst of “ObamaMania”. Even the CNN poll found 42 percent of Republicans “Extremely Enthusiastic” (as opposed to 28 percent in 2008) versus 37 percent of Democrats (as opposed to 45 percent in 2008) (pages 6-7). An 11 percent Democratic edge seems particularly optimistic in a year when the most dangerous place to be on Election Day may be between a Republican and the voting booth.

On Oct. 26, Gallup issued an analysis of the demographics of likely voters based on its October 1-24 daily election tracking. Gallup estimated that this year’s turnout would be 36 percent Republicans, 35 percent Democrats and 29 percent Independents. Let’s apply Gallup’s voting percentages to CNN’s polling results assuming 1,000 voters made up of 350 Democrats, 290 Independents and 360 Republicans. Voting for President Obama, we would have 326 Democrats (93 percent of 350), 107 Independents (37 percent of 290), and 4 Republicans (1 percent of 360), for a total of 437 votes. Voting for Governor Romney, we would have 356 Republicans (99 percent of 360), 162 Independents (56 percent of 290), and 18 Democrats (5 percent of 350) for a total of 536 votes. So, President Obama would get 44 percent of the vote and Gov. Romney would get 55 percent, a huge Romney victory.

Rasmussen projects that 39 percent of voters will be Democrats and 37 percent Republicans, leaving 24 percent Independent.

Let’s apply Rasmussen’s voting percentages to CNN’s polling results assuming 1,000 voters made up of 390 Democrats, 240 Independents and 370 Republicans. Voting for President Obama, we would have 363 Democrats (93 percent of 390), 89 Independents (37 percent of 240), and 4 Republicans (1 percent of 370), for a total of 456 votes. Voting for Gov. Romney, we would have 366 Republicans (99 percent of 370), 134 Independents (56 percent of 240), and 20 Democrats (5 percent of 390) for a total of 520 votes. So, President Obama would get 46 percent of the vote and Governor Romney would get 52 percent, again, a huge Romney victory.

This CNN poll is truly great news for Republicans unless you believe that Democrats will vote 11 percent more than Republican this year and very few people do (outside of CNN apparently). The reality is that, using CNN’s own numbers, anything under an 11 percent voting advantage for Democrats results in a popular vote victory for Gov. Romney. You have to wonder why they chose 11 percent.

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