Quinnipiac poll claims Obama over 50 percent in OH, FL, PA — but let’s look at the instant replay

Quinnipiac University has a new poll out of Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania:

President Barack Obama hits the magic 50 percent mark against Gov. Mitt Romney among likely voters in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, with wide support for his plan to hike federal income taxes on upper-income voters, according to a Quinnipiac University/ CBS News/New York Times Swing State Poll released today.

This is the first measure of likely voters in these swing states and cannot be compared with earlier surveys of registered voters. Matching Obama against Romney in each of these key states – no one has won the White House since 1960 without taking at least two of them – shows:

* Florida: Obama edges Romney 51- 45 percent;
* Ohio: Obama over Romney by a slim 50 – 44 percent;
* Pennsylvania: Obama tops Romney 53 – 42 percent.

Support for President Obama’s proposal to increase taxes on households making more than $250,000 per year is 58 – 37 percent in Florida, 60 – 37 percent in Ohio and 62 – 34 percent in Pennsylvania, the survey by Quinnipiac/CBS/The Times finds.

They make a big deal about how this poll isn’t strictly comparable to previous polls, because they’re screening for likely voters, and not just polling registered voters. What they don’t tell you in that url (you have to go all the way to the bottom and open up a Word document for each state linked there) is the demographic breakdown they’re using. First for Florida:

(apologies for the wonky formatting, but I can’t get html to recognize a tt tag)

PARTY IDENTIFICATION - Generally speaking, do you consider yourself a Republican,
a Democrat, an Independent, or what?

                            LIKELY VOTERS........
                            Weighted   UnWeighted
                            Percent    Frequency
 Republican                 27%         359
 Democrat                   36          373
 Independent                32          393
 Other/DK/NA                 5           52

Then for Ohio:

                            LIKELY VOTERS........
                            Weighted   UnWeighted
                            Percent    Frequency
 Republican                 27%         345
 Democrat                   35          397
 Independent                32          392
 Other/DK/NA                 5           59

Finally for Pennsylvania:

                            LIKELY VOTERS........
                            Weighted   UnWeighted
                            Percent    Frequency
 Republican                 32%         390
 Democrat                   38          408
 Independent                26          322
 Other/DK/NA                 4           48

Doing the math, the D-R-I breakdowns:

Florida, unweighted: 31.7-30.5-33.4 (D +1.2)
Florida, weighted: 36-27-32 (D +9)
Ohio, unweighted: 33.3-28.9-32.9 (D +4.4)
Ohio, weighted: 35-27-32 (D +8)
Pennsylvania, unweighted: 34.9-33.4-27.6 (D +1.5)
Pennsylvania, weighted: 38-32-26 (D +6)

While Rasmussen doesn't publish breakdowns per state, their national partisan breakdown has Republicans at a low for 2012, but still R +0.9: 34.0-34.9.

So what can we conclude from this poll? Obama breaks 50 percent in Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania-- if you put your thumb on the scale to give Democrats anywhere from 4 to 8 more points off the raw numbers, and maybe even more than that compared to what a proper weighting probably should be.

In other words: another biased poll, nothing to see here.

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