No freaking out about that Florida presidential poll

I know it’s tempting. But some perspective, please, when it comes to the poll showing the presidential race deadlocked in Florida.

Five reasons to “calmate” …

1. It’s July. That means every poll out there, even the ones Dems are happy about, are pretty much meaningless. At this time in 2008, John McCain was ahead of then-Senator Barack Obama in the polling average, 45.4 percent to 44.6 percent, using the nerderific Pollster.com polling thingamajig:

Even if you take Rasmussen AND Fox/Rasmussen out of the equation, McCain led Obama in the July 2008 spread, 44.9 percent to 43.3 percent.

So how did 2008 work out in Florida? Barack Obama won the state, 50.9 percent to 48.1 percent for McCain. Again, it’s early. By the by, if you average the polls from March 1st through today in Florida, Obama leads by a very slight 45.9-44.9 (again, July…)

… or 46.2-44.3 if you take Rasmussen out:

That’s for those of you who can’t resist. ;)

2. Obama is actually doing pretty well in Florida, considering. Even if you buy into every ounce of data in the Mason-Dixon poll (and I would really like to see their sample before I bought in, given the frequent divergence between the way pollsters see Florida — as a slight majority Republican state — and actually Florida, which is, as The Boss constantly reminds us, 40 percent Dem, 36 percent GOP and the rest independent) you have to figure that given Obama’s craptastic polling numbers on the economy, healthcare and right track-wrong track, he shouldn’t even be ahead by one point. From the poll:

• 54 percent of likely Florida voters say the country is on the “wrong track” with Obama at the helm.

• Only 35 percent believe his policies have improved the economy, while 41 percent say they have made it worse.

• 46 percent of voters approve of the president’s job performance, while 50 percent disapprove.

• 52 percent oppose the healthcare overhaul — Obama’s signature achievement recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court — and 50 percent of Florida voters want to see it repealed.

And yet, Obama is up by 1 point, 46-45 in the poll, with a 3.5 percent MOE (and a relatively modest 800 person sample), which means he’s either up 49.5-42.5, or he’s down 42.5-48.5. Either way, not horrible for a re-elect in which the economy is vercrappen. Why is Obama not doing much, much worse in a state that for God’s sakes elected Rick Friggin Scott??? Independents. They’re one-fifth of the voting population, and they’re siding with the president over the Outsourcer who Isn’t CEO of His Own Company:

In the current poll, crucial independent voters prefer Obama to Romney, 46 percent to 41 percent.

Ditto women, among whom Obama has a 14-point lead over Romney, counteracting Romney’s prototypically Republican lead among men. By the way, Florida is a notoriously difficult state to poll. There are so many demographics and sub-demographics (did you poll enough Puerto Ricans in your tiny Hispanic sample? Are Caribbean-Americans or Haitian-Americans, who are more persuadable on average, skewing your AA sample? Does a registered Democrat in Tallahassee behave more like a Georgia Republican, skewing your sample even more…?) So my hat’s off to anyone who does it on the regular.

3. Rick Scott. Here was a guy who ran on his business background. Floridians can’t stand him. And Romney is running on a … business background. No wonder the poll finds that while 47 percent of respondents say Romney’s biz backgrond “gives him the skills to better manage the government and improve the economy,” a very close 38 percent felt that Romney “is more concerned with making money and his practices in many instances have unnecessarily cost people their jobs in order to earn profits.”

Natch. So not only does the unpopularity of Rick Scott hurt Romney, the coming — and it’s coming — superimposition of Romney’s business background onto Rick Scott’s filthy image, is going to hurt Mitt in the middle. Meanwhile, I’m not sure Rick Scott knows how to operate the Republican machinery in a way that helps Romney win the state, while the Republican Party of Florida is a hot … steaming … dysfunctional … mess. Can they pull together a decent GOTV campaign (which for Repubs usually means direct mail and absentee balloting)? Maybe. And they will have lots of help with TV ads from various super-PACs. But Scott is DOA as both a surrogate, and a party machine guy, for Romney, while Obama will be all over the ground, and he’s got solid people inside of OFA and the coordinated campaign (my pal Eric Jotkoff, former spokesman for the Florida Dems, has joined Team Obama as communications director, and the campaign is staffing up with folks who understand the ground game. Not saying Republicans won’t have game too, just that Tricky Ricky won’t be much in the way of a quarterback…)

4. Medicare … and also Obamacare. Old people vote. Old people don’t like Paul Ryan’s Medicare eviscerating voucher plan. Mitt Romney signed on to Paul Ryan’s Medicare eviscerating voucher plan. Democrats will spend Bill Gatesian sums of money reminding old people in Florida about that. Watch your mailboxes, grannies! An estimated 4 million seniors who had hit the Medicare Part D “donut hole” began getting monthly rebate checks of around $250 back in the summer of 2010. Think the Obama campaign will start chasing those checks with little direct mail reminders of who those checks’ daddy is, sometime around September? I do. And then there’s this, which could cut that 50 percent of Floridians who hate Obamacare down by at least a few percentage points by November. Here I will cite the Fox Business Network, just so you know I’m not acting out of typical Northeastern liberal bias:

Insurance rebates

Effective: June 1, 2012

The biggest impact from health care reform consumers may feel in 2012 is actually the result of an initiative that began last year called the medical loss ratio, or MLR. This formula requires health insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent of their premiums on direct medical care or quality improvement or 85 percent for large group-based plans. Those that don’t meet the mark must provide a rebate to policyholders.

“The rebates start June 1, and they have to have them issued no later than August 1,” says Laurie Sobel, senior attorney for Consumers Union. “The National Association of Insurance Commissioners estimates that Americans would have received nearly $2 billion if MLR had been in effect in 2010.”

This, to my mind, is THE MOST UNDERCOVERED STORY OF THE YEAR. It is the one way that the Obama team and the Democrats in Congress played smart political ball with the healthcare reform bill. What it means in layman’s terms, is that just as George W. Bush’s administration mailed out the 2002 and 2003 tax cuts in actual checks, rather than putting them through the tax code and your paycheck the way economists prefer — accruing a political benefit that far outstripped the benefit to the economy (since people typically bank lump sums of money, but spend even slight increases in their pay back into the economy — ie the way the Obama payroll tax cut worked). This time, Obamacare has mandated that insurance companies send people actual checks. Starting in August. Meaning the rebates will begin pouring in just before the election. And yes, you’ve got to assume that the Obama campaign will be reminding people that those checks are courtesy of Obamacare. And thanks for that handy “Obamacare” slogan, GOP!

5. The math. In politics, demographics is now officially destiny. So let me go back to The Boss (Steve Schale) for just a moment. This from his analysis of an equally irrelevant (but yes, endlessly catnippy for us political nerds) presidential horse race poll of Florida voters:

First, it is important to keep in mind Florida’s registered and likely voter make-up.

Here in Florida, roughly 40% of voters are Democratic, 36% are Republican and the rest are minor or no party affiliated. Furthermore, about 67% of voters are white and roughly 13% are African-American (or Caribbean American) and the same are Hispanic.

In terms of what the electorate will look like on election day in 2012, by my estimate is it will be roughly 42% Democratic, 40% Republican and 18% minor/NPA — and using 2008 as a bit of a guide, roughly 70% white, 13% African American (or Caribbean American) and 12-13% Hispanic.

The Q poll, which gave Mitt Romney a 6 point lead, weighed out at 37% Republican, 29% Democratic and 29% Independent. It also landed at over 80% white, 8% Hispanic and 7% African America and Caribbean American. There is no scenario where the Florida votes will look like this on Election Day 2012.

Again, I can’t dis the M-D poll without seeing the demographic breakdown, but I would really love to see those crosstabs. That’s not to say that Florida is not going to be close. If past is prolog, it’s going to be VERY close, and could come down to 60,000 votes, like the 2010 governor’s race did. But if Bill Nelson wins back his seat — and I believe he will — it’s going to take a lot of ticket splitting by indies to put Mitt over the top. And if the black vote share doesn’t drop below 13 percent — and I see no reason why it would, if the Obama campaign/OFA does even a decent job at GOTV. And if Hispanic voters (non-Cuban) break heavily for Obama (which all signs point to them doing — hell, even in the M-D poll, adding Rubio barely moves the needle for Romney, particularly since Cuban-Americans are declining as a share of the Hispanic electorate in the state,) Obama should be able to pull off a win in the sunshine state.

The FiveThirtyEight model has Florida down to a fare-thee-well, with Obama leading in the model, as of day, by just 0.5 points. That’s not unrealistic, but again, it’s JULY. The only two things that can truly ensure Obama loses Florida are low turnout and Democratic base voter apathy, which are actually one and the same.

One side note: the voter purge “victory” for Republicans may be Pyrrhic on one score: the federal database they are being permitted to accesss will allow them to scour the voter rolls for non-eligible aliens, but only in one way: they can check for people who have what’s called an “alien registration number.” If you have such a number, as my British-native husband does, you shouldn’t also be registered to vote, unless you have since become a citizen. The feds are only going to allow Florida to check voters with such a number — not just by the surname, like the little purgers wanted to. That means they won’t be able to challenge voters just because their name sounds suspiciously like a Democrat … sorry, I mean “illegal alien.” So it’s a win for the GOP, but only a very small one. The previous purge list, once whittled down from the 182,000 person monstrosity, ID’d fewer than 3,000 people. That’s not nothing, but when you look at how many people Republicans will actually be able to prevent from voting, I suspect it will be fewer than you think.

I could be wrong, but that’s my take.

This entry was posted in 2012, Elections, Florida, Mitt Romney, Politics, Polls, President Barack Obama and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to No freaking out about that Florida presidential poll

  1. mdblanche says:

    In July, 2008 it looks like McCain’s lead was due to one poll that was an outlier. Well, that’s what happens when one outlier makes up a fifth of your sample.

  2. Michelle says:

    Got my healthcare refund already. $470!!!! Never though I’d see the day. Thanks Obama and all those people that are making it a little fairer in healthcare for us little guys.

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