Thursday, December 8, 2011

Electability: Not Yet Settled

Some on the left and some on the right have been touting today's Quinnipiac poll report on Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania, claiming it demolishes the claim that Romney is more electable than Gingrich. As the report shows,
  • Florida: Romney with 45 percent to Obama's 42 percent; Obama at 46 percent to Gingrich's 44 percent.
  • Ohio: Romney at 43 percent to Obama's 42 percent; Gingrich with 43 percent to Obama's 42 percent.
  • Pennsylvania: Obama edging Romney 46 - 43 percent; Obama tops Gingrich 48 - 40 percent.
Romney still outperforms Gingrich in these polls, but not by colossal levels. Ohio and Florida seem like must-win states for any GOP candidate; Calvin Coolidge was the last Republican to win without Florida, and no Republican has won without carrying Ohio.

Yet even if the head-to-head polling doesn't show the biggest difference between Romney and Gingrich, looking at the favorability numbers tells a much different story. For FL/OH/PA, Romney has +11/+4/+4 net favorability ratings (favorability minus unfavorability), respectively. For Gingrich, the numbers are -4/-6/-14. That's a huge swing between the two candidates. In every state except Ohio (where their favorability numbers are tied), Romney has a higher favorability rating than Gingrich, and he has a much lower unfavorability rating in every state. By comparison, Obama has -1/-10/-1 net favorability ratings in these states.

Voters in these crucial swing states seem to have more built-in resistance to Gingrich than they do to Romney. These numbers suggest that Gingrich has a much more uphill battle in these states in winning over the (crucial) undecided voters.

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