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Ohio on the Minds of Political Insiders

Who will win the swing state—Mitt Romney or President Obama?

October 11, 2012

What is the likelihood of Mitt Romney winning Ohio?


Highly likely: 0%
Likely: 6%
Not likely:



“Debate bounce goes over big in Ohio.”

Not likely

“One good debate does not reverse the trend, and the policies, and the improving economy in Ohio.”

“The relatively lower unemployment rate in Ohio and the benefits of the auto bailout are too much for Romney to overcome.”

“Ground game, ground game, ground game.”

“Being against the auto bailout is the kiss of death.”

“You needed a fourth option: jump ball.”

“Blue-collar workers in Ohio have swung more toward the Democratic side since last year’s SB 5 fight [on collective-bargaining rights]. Romney is the wrong candidate to get them back.”

“The unemployment rate is lower than the national average. Ohioans will vote with their pocketbooks and vote for an Obama second term.

“2004 in reverse. The energized Democratic ground game cuts Romney’s margins in the collar counties surrounding Dayton, Cleveland, Toledo, and Columbus.”

“Obama actually did save the auto industry, and he’ll get credit for it on Election Day in Ohio.”

“80 percent of the population of Ohio is the 47 percent of the people Romney insulted. If Obama doesn’t win Ohio, he loses the election badly.”

“Romney is a Michigan Wolverines fan.”

“The well has been sufficiently poisoned to prevent a Romney comeback.”

“The undecideds will swing back and forth, and everyone will follow these tracks until the bitter end. But Ohio was for Obama until this week and will go back to Obama ultimately.”

“His view down the nose at workers and working families—particularly those connected with the auto industry—will be his undoing in Ohio.”


What is the likelihood of Mitt Romney winning Ohio?


Highly likely: 7%
Not likely:

Highly likely

“Tsunami is coming. The Obama gravity-defiance act has been pierced.”


“If Romney can keep the focus on jobs and the economy, then he is in good shape.”

“He has closed the gap and positioned himself to win. If he does, he is the president.”

“He has to; otherwise, it is over.”

“Obama’s class-warfare campaign is losing its momentum. Columbus suburbs [are] key to Romney win.”

“All part of the plan. Call it Romney’s ‘Surge of the Undecideds.’ ”

“It’s been closing every month since the summer. The Obama magic has worn out in the Buckeye State.”

“This is where the enthusiasm gap catches up to Team Obama.”

“In the end, the economy will prevail, and Buckeyes will rightly hold the president accountable for his reckless assault on small businesses and larger job creators.”

“When the swing is on, a whole bunch of states will start toppling to Romney.”

“It is 50/50, but with his recent debate performance I’ll give edge to ‘likely.’ ”

Not likely

“The Ohio economy is doing comparatively well, and Obama has sold the state on the notion that it is because of his bailout of the autos, even though it is in fact because of the shale boom.”

“In the end, a great comeback will not be enough to offset getting crushed there for two months prior to the debate.”

“One state where class warfare may work.”

“If only the headline had been ‘Get Detroit Through Bankruptcy,’ Romney would take Ohio.”


Should pollsters weight their surveys by party ID, or should they measure only by adjusting their sample to race, gender, and other demographics and allow for changes in party-ID attitudes?


Weight by party ID: 51%
Sample only by demographics: 49%

Weight by party ID

“Weight by party ID where that exists, but demographic factors need to be included as well.”

“Generally speaking, party ID is the best predictor of how people will vote. Why make it harder than that?”

“Party ID is fine as long as it’s consistently measured over a comparable period of time.”

“You need as much information as possible about whether the poll respondents match the group of people who will vote.”

“Experience teaches us that there is a need to adjust for the types of voters who are reachable depending on the time and day on which pollsters call.”

“Allowing party ID to wildly fluctuate is as silly as thinking that party ID actually fluctuates that wildly. It doesn’t.”

Sample only by demographics

“This is all a ridiculous Republican talking point. I hope the Republican pollsters change their methodology to match their BS spin.”

“Except when you get outside a certain range that does not accord with everything else you know about your electorate and the national environment. Even then, you need to think hard about weighting anything in your favor.”

“I’m a pollster, and the true answer lies somewhat in the middle. But given the alternative, more emphasis ought to be put into demographics, and party ID should be adjusted only when it seems to have deviated too much from a previous norm.”

“An ideal poll weights by demographics, as party ID often changes based on enthusiasm. Sampling techniques are more sophisticated than simply weighting however, as they need to be concerned with cell phones, who is likely to be home on particular days, and screening bias.”

“Party ID has been a dying statistic for a generation or better. Swing voters don’t give a damn about party ID—that’s why they are a swing voter.”


Should pollsters weight their surveys by party ID, or should they measure only by adjusting their sample to race, gender, and other demographics and allow for changes in party-ID attitudes?


Weight by party ID: 76%
Sample only by demographics: 24%

Weight by party ID

“I have been doing this for 20 years. You have to make certain assumptions based on historical and likely voters. If you make the right assumption, it’s far more accurate than just demographic sampling.”

“In an increasingly partisan world, party ID is just as key as other demographic information.”

“There should be some of both. But the party-ID weighting is a crucial reality check. A number of the polls have not been plausible.”

“With tracking polls or very frequent stand-alone polls, you must keep party ID within a reasonable range. The range can be adjusted if a consistent trend is observed. Party ID is an attitude that changes more slowly than many other attitudes and perceptions.”

“They should not weight by an unchanging party ID, because that can change over the course of a campaign. But they should definitely weight by an average of party ID over the two-year cycle to even out inevitable variations from sample to sample. Going from +10 [percentage points] Democrat (which has never happened in exit polling in 28 years) to +5 Republican (which has also never happened) in three weeks as Pew did makes the whole polling profession look bad.”

“Party ID accounts for more than two-thirds of votes cast. If you get that wrong, then you get the ballot wrong. Simple as that.”

“It’s like kicking a field goal. The party-ID numbers need to stay within the uprights.”

Sample only by demographics

“Party ID is a structural variable. It does certainly change over time but does not change in the short term. My bias is totally in favor of weighting data by race and by age within gender.”

“The sample should pick itself. Sometimes knowing who is turning out is as important as knowing who those who turn out actually vote for.”

“Party ID is a fluid measurement. Let the market speak, and be transparent about results.”


Democratic Political Insiders Jill Alper, John Anzalone, Brad Bannon, Dave Beattie, Andy Bechhoefer, Cornell Belcher, Matt Bennett, Mitchell W. Berger, Mike Berman, Stephanie Bosh, Paul Brathwaite, Donna Brazile, Mark Brewer, Ed Bruley, George Bruno, Bonnie Campbell, Bill Carrick, Guy Cecil, Martin J. Chavez, Tony Coelho, Larry Cohen, Jerry Crawford, Brendan Daly, Jeff Danielson, Peter Daou, Howard Dean, Scott DeFife, Jim Demers, Tad Devine, David Di Martino, Debbie Dingell, Monica Dixon, Patrick Dorton, Pat Dujakovich, Anita Dunn, Jeff Eller, Steve Elmendorf, Carter Eskew, Vic Fazio, Peter Fenn, Scott Ferson, Jim Fleischmann, Tina Flournoy, Don Foley, Jeffrey Forbes, Vincent Frillici, Gina Glantz, Niles Godes, John Michael Gonzalez, Joe Grandmaison, Anna Greenberg, Stan Greenberg, Pat Griffin, Larry Grisolano, Michael Gronstal, Lisa Grove, Marcia Hale, Jill Hanauer, Dick Harpootlian, Paul Harstad, Laura Hartigan, Doug Hattaway, Mike Henry, Karen Hicks, Leo Hindery Jr., Harold Ickes, Marcus Jadotte, John Jameson, Steve Jarding, Jonathon Jones, Jim Jordan, Gale Kaufman, Lisa Kountoupes, Celinda Lake, David Lang, Penny Lee, Chris Lehane, Jeff Link, Bob Maloney, Jim Manley, Steve Marchand, Jim Margolis, Paul Maslin, Keith Mason, Susan McCue, Gerald McEntee, Steve McMahon, Tom McMahon, Phil McNamara, David Medina, Michael Meehan, Mark Mellman, John Merrigan, Michael Monroe, Steve Murphy, Janet Napolitano, David Nassar, Marcia Nichols, John Norris, Tom Ochs, Tom O’Donnell, Jeffrey Peck, Debora Pignatelli, Tony Podesta, Jefrey Pollock, Jack Quinn, Larry Rasky, Mame Reiley, Ed Rendell, Steve Ricchetti, Will Robinson, Steve Rosenthal, David Rudd, Ryan Rudominer, John Ryan, Michael Sargeant, Stephanie Schriock, Terry Shumaker, Sean Sinclair, Phil Singer, Erik Smith, Doug Sosnik, Greg Speed, Darry Sragow, Ken Strasma, Doug Thornell, Jeffrey Trammell, Ed Turlington, Rick Wiener, James Williams, JoDee Winterhof, Brian Wolff, Jon Youngdahl, and Jim Zogby.

GOP Political Insiders Dan Allen, Stan Anderson, Gary Andres, Saulius (Saul) Anuzis, Rich Ashooh, Whit Ayres, Brett Bader, Mitch Bainwol, Brian Baker, Gary Bauer, David Beckwith, Paul Bennecke, Clark Benson, Wayne Berman, Brian Bieron, Charlie Black, Kirk Blalock, Carmine Boal, Jeff Boeyink, Ron Bonjean, Jeff Buley, Luke Byars, Nick Calio, Al Cardenas, Danny Carroll, Alex Castellanos, Ron Christie, Jim Cicconi, Jonathan Collegio, Rob Collins, Cesar Conda, Jake Corman, Scott Cottington, Jay Cranford, Greg Crist, Diane Crookham-Johnson, Fergus Cullen, Tom Davis, Mike Dennehy, Ken Duberstein, Debi Durham, Sara Fagen, Frank Fahrenkopf, John Feehery, Don Fierce, Mindy Finn, Carl Forti, Alex Gage, Bruce A. Gates, Sam Geduldig, Adam Geller, Benjamin Ginsberg, David Girard-diCarlo, Bill Greener, Jonathan Grella, Lanny Griffith, Janet Mullins Grissom, Doug Gross, Todd Harris, Steve Hart, Christopher Healy, Ralph Hellmann, Chris Henick, Terry Holt, David Iannelli, Ed Ingle, Jim Innocenzi, Clark Judge, David Keating, David Kensinger, Bob Kjellander, Ed Kutler, Chris LaCivita, Jim Lake, Steven Law, Steve Lombardo, Kevin Madden, Joel Maiola, Gary Maloney, David Marin, Mary Matalin, Dan Mattoon, Brian McCormack, Mark McKinnon, Kyle McSlarrow, Ken Mehlman, Jim Merrill, Lisa Camooso Miller, Tim Morrison, Mike Murphy, Phil Musser, Ron Nehring, Terry Nelson, Neil Newhouse, David Norcross, Ziad Ojakli, Jack Oliver, Todd Olsen, Kevin O’Neill, Connie Partoyan, Billy Piper, Van B. Poole, Tom Rath, Scott Reed, David Rehr, Tom Reynolds, Steve Roberts, Jason Roe, David Roederer, Dan Schnur, Russ Schriefer, Rich Schwarm, Brent Seaborn, Rick Shelby, Andrew Shore, Kevin Shuvalov, Don Sipple, Ken Spain, Fred Steeper, Bob Stevenson, Terry Sullivan, David Tamasi, Eric Tanenblatt, Richard Temple, Heath Thompson, Jay Timmons, Warren Tompkins, Ted Van Der Meid, Dirk van Dongen, Jan van Lohuizen, Stewart Verdery, Dick Wadhams, John Weaver, Lezlee Westine, Dave Winston, Ginny Wolfe, Fred Wszolek, and Matthew Zablud.

This story appeared in the print edition of National Journal under the headline "Political Insiders Poll."

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