Republicans have been continually bullish on presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s standing in recent polls because of a key sign: His improving numbers among self-identified Independent voters. Romney leads President Barack Obama by an astounding 16 points among Independents in a new tracking survey from Public Policy Polling today, which has been part of a trend lately.
Even the polls that have continued to be more favourable to Obama — like the IBD/TIPP tracking poll — provide Romney with a significant advantage with Independents. Though Obama led by 2 points in the latest tracking poll, Romney takes Independents by 11 points.
The numbers have run along similar lines in other national tracking polls:
- Washington Post: Romney 56, Obama 40
- Rasmussen: Romney leads by 11
- Monmouth: Romney leads by nineteen
There are two important caveats in this measure, however. First, as a comparatively small sample, Independent sampling can be volatile and have a much higher margin of error than the poll as a whole.
The second goes along with a popular meme this election season: so-called “unskewed polling.” Republicans have complained about the party sampling in polls this season.
But pollsters insist that self-identified party ID is more of an attitude than a demographic, and it can swing wildly from month-to-month and even sample-to-sample. The theory goes that, in general, more self-identified “Independents” this time around are Republican leaners.
Indeed, recent polling suggests that the Independent vote tends to sway from poll to poll. In the latest Politico/George Washington University poll, Obama took a lead with Independents after Romney led that group for the firm’s entire year of surveys.
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