Category Archives: President Obama

North Carolina’s racial divide

Much of the early punditry said that African American voters weren’t quite as fired up for President Obama as they were in 2008. That could be true in some parts of the country, but it doesn’t appear to be the case in North Carolina.

In the latest Elon University Poll, 88% of African American likely voters said they were going to vote for Obama to only 2% for Gov. Romney. The racial divide is stark. Among white likely voters, 59% prefer Romney and 33% prefer Obama.

“Survey results and official statistics suggest that black turnout is on pace to match 2008 numbers,” said poll director Ken Fernandez.

Obama’s stance on same-sex marriage, which many black churches oppose, doesn’t seem to have hurt him.

— John Robinson

Who won the debate?

Who won last night’s presidential debate?

Overnight polls say Gov. Romney in a landslide.

CNN— “…67% of debate watchers questioned said that the Republican nominee won the faceoff, with one in four saying that President Barack Obama was victorious….While nearly half of debate watchers said the showdown didn’t make them more likely to vote for either candidate, 35% said the debate made them more likely to vote for Romney while only 18% said the faceoff made them more likely to vote to re-elect the president.”

CBS“…46 percent of voters gave the economy-centric debate to Romney, 22 percent said they believed the president was the winner, and 32 percent called it a tie. More good news for the GOP nominee: 56 percent of those polled said they viewed Romney in a better light after watching the debate.”

And an analysis from the New York Times’ Nate Silver: “There is not a lot of empirical research on the relationship between instant reaction polls and their eventual effect on the head-to-head polls. However, these were strong numbers for Mr. Romney where comparisons to past post-debate polls are available”

His conclusion on the FiveThirtyEight blog: “My own instant reaction is that Mr. Romney may have done the equivalent of kick a field goal, perhaps not bringing the race to draw, but setting himself up in such a way that his comeback chances have improved by a material amount.”

— John Robinson


Winning the female vote

A new Quinnipiac poll shows that President Obama has an 18-point lead among women, helping him to a 49% to 45% lead over Gov. Romney among likely voters nationwide.

That may help to explain why North Carolina is a battleground state.

In the Elon University Poll released on Labor Day, women were pretty evenly split between Obama (45%) and Romney (44%.) Romney dominates among male voters. The female breakdown was somewhat surprising because Democrats and Obama have routinely trended well with women. We will track that again in our next poll before the election.
— John Robinson

Are the polls purposely skewed?

There has been much discussion lately — mostly by Republicans — that polls showing President Obama leading the presidential race are skewed. The answer is no. Here’s a roundup.

CNN— It has the best description of the “discussion.”

“It’s a conspiracy theory of the highest level: media organizations allegedly manipulating data in public opinion polls to try and help President Barack Obama win a second term. Democracy crushed. The accusations are predicated on the idea that some media organizations are interviewing too many Democrats in their surveys, which skew the results in way to benefit Obama over Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.”

Washington Post — The best explanation of polling. “What all of the above points to is the reality that polling is equal parts art and science. The best of the best — like the folks at the Post — understand that putting together the sample for any poll involves weighing what we know the electorate looked like in the past with what it looks like today and what it will look like on Nov. 6.”

Gallup — It has the best defense of polling. “Interested observers often opine that when a given poll shows that Candidate X is ahead, it cannot be correct because there is a higher percentage of voters who identify with Candidate X’s party in the sample than there should be, based on comparison to some previous standard. There are several reasons why this is a faulty approach to evaluating a poll’s results.”

Slate — It has an interesting “unskewing” of polls. “Dean Chambers, who runs, quicky worked his usual magic on the Fox data but this time his “unskewing” wasn’t enough to move the numbers in the GOP’s favor.”

— John Robinson

Look for more political ads

If you are scoring at home, there are 58 days to go before the end of the nasty political ad season. That is, if you live in one of the 10 battleground states, and North Carolina is one of those. Here is what Rob Christensen, political reporter for the News & Observer and a member of Elon Poll’s political panel last week, says:

Republicans were so certain of carrying the Tar Heel State last time that South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham famously boasted: “I’ll beat (multiple gold medal winner) Michael Phelps in swimming before Barack Obama wins North Carolina.”

After Obama improbably carried North Carolina in 2008, the first time since 1976 that a Democratic presidential candidate won the state, Republicans are making no such boasts this time. This summer, the state has endured a $50 million advertising barrage, with Romney and his allies outspending Obama by more than 2-to-1.

Meanwhile, some polls are showing a bounce for President Obama after the Democratic National Convention. We’ll see if it lasts longer than Gov. Romney’s.

Where the money is

“Nearly six-in-ten survey respondents (58%) also say the rich pay too little in taxes, while 26% say they pay their fair share, and just 8% say they pay too much. Even among those who describe themselves as upper or upper-middle class1, 52% say upper-income Americans don’t pay enough in taxes.”

That’s from a Pew Research Center poll in August. The Elon University Poll conducted in August has a similar result. North Carolina likely voters were asked, “Do you support or oppose extending [the Bush] tax cuts for people making over $250,000?” Fifty-two percent said they opposed the extension; 37% supported it. And this result is from a group that supports Gov. Romney over President Obama, 47%-43%.

— John Robinson

The candidates in a word

What one word would you use to describe President Obama? Gov. Romney? Vice President Biden? Rep. Paul Ryan?

The Pew Research Center asked and created a fascinating one-word look at four leaders.

For Obama the top reference was “good/good man.” The first negative — failed — came in fourth.

For Romney, it was “honest.” His first negative — liar — came in ninth. (The survey on questions about Ryan and Romney were conducted a week earlier than that of Obama and Biden.)

“About four-in-ten (43%) of those who offered a one-word description used a positive term to describe their impression of Obama, while an identical percentage used a negative word….A Pew Research Center/Washington Post survey last week found that more people use negative than positive words to describe Mitt Romney: 42% of the words were clearly negative while 28% were positive.”

For Biden, it was “good.” His first negative — idiot” — comes quickly. It is the second most mentioned description. “Of those offering a word to describe Biden, 38% use negative terms, while 23% give positive words.”

For Ryan, it was “conservative.” His first negative — “idiot” — comes in 10th. “Of those offering a word, 37% describe Ryan in clearly positive terms, using such words as intelligent, good, energetic , honest and smart. Another 35% of the words used are clearly negative in tone, such as idiot, extreme, phony and scary.” Because the timing of the survey, it doesn’t reflect any good or bad will as a result of the fact-checking questions about Ryan’s convention speech. 

— John Robinson

Where are the women voters?

One of the more striking bits of information in the Elon University Poll of likely voters in North Carolina is how men and women plan to vote. Fifty-two percent of men said they would vote for Gov. Romney if the election were held today. Forty percent would vote for President Obama. That divide is typical, according to national polls.

The news is that among women, 45% would vote for Obama and 44% would vote for Romney. That there is basically no gap is big news. Female voters have long been a strong, core constituency for Obama.

An ABC-Washington Post poll found the similar trends. “The decline has occurred entirely among women registered voters – from 57-39 percent favorable-unfavorable in April to a numerically negative 46-50 percent now. That’s Obama’s lowest score among women voters – a focus of recent political positioning – in ABC/Post polls since he took office.”

Our poll and ABC’s were taken before Michelle Obama’s address last night. By most accounts, it was a strong speech aimed at women. We will see if it helped. Meanwhile, the Christian Science Monitor details “six flash points” in the battle for women’s votes.

— John Robinson

Are you excited about your presidential choices?

NBC reports that Democrats are facing an enthusiasm gap this fall. In the Aug. 2012 NBC/WSJ poll, just 52% of voters under 35 and only 49% of Latinos expressed high interest in the upcoming election, which was down about 20 points for both groups at this same point in ’08.

According to the Elon University Poll, likely voters in North Carolina seem pretty excited. Breaking it down, though, 51% of Romney supporters said they are “very excited,” 44% said they are “pretty excited” and 39% said they are “not that excited.” For Obama, it is 47% very excited, 47% pretty excited and 39% not that excited.

To NBC’s point about an enthusiasm gap, in North Carolina, likely voters between 18-30 have the lowest excitement percentages of any age group. And Democrats are, in fact, less excited by the race than Republicans. (Check out the breakdowns in detail on pages 15 and 16.)

Back to NBC: So this is the opportunity that the Democratic convention represents for the Obama camp and Democrats: maybe a final chance to rekindle some of the 2008 magic. If Mitt Romney had to close his likeability gap at last week’s GOP convention, Barack Obama and the Democrats this week have to close the enthusiasm gap.

— John Robinson

Obama-Romney in N.C.: It’s tight, still

While the Elon University Poll conducted last week reported that Gov. Romney has a 47%-to-43% lead over President Obama in North Carolina, other polls of the state reported slightly different results.

Public Policy Polling, which leans Democratic, has the race tied up, 48%-48%. A High Point University/Fox8 poll has Romney at 46% and Obama at 43%. Interestingly, a few days earlier, HPU reported poll results showing the race deadlocked at 43%. And a Civitas Poll, which leans Republican, has the race in a dead heat at 45% each.

But if you’re serious about comparing, make sure you read the methodology and the margin of error at each of the sites. They differ vastly.

— John Robinson