Polling Pennsylvania

So the national polls have settled into a holding pattern of Obama +2 to +6. The tracking polls are in that range as well as most national surveys (with the slight exception of Gallup’s recent Obama +7 in a national poll). And most states have not moved much over the last 30 days. FL went from a McCain lead of 2-5 to a toss-up but it is now back to a comfortable McCain lead. MI and CO retain their slight Obama lean and VA continues to be a toss-up.

Let’s take a look at PA polling and party ID. Today, Franklin and Marshall released a new poll showing Obama +5. This is in line with other recent polls showing a comfortable Obama cushion (RCP Ave.: Obama +6.8%) that is similar to his national lead. But the F&M poll is a sample of 50D/38R or D+12. I thought that looked a bit more Democratic than I would expect so I looked into.

In 2004, PA exit polls showed the electorate was D+2 (41D/39R). Surely it is more Democratic now for the well-known reasons: R registration drop nationally, D registration increase nationally, close D primary led to more registration/participation, and national party ID numbers have gone from D+4 to D+10 regardless of actual registration. But a shift of 10 points in four years would be quite devastating for the GOP in PA.

The last F&M poll showed a D+14 partisan makeup and showed Obama winning by 6. In both F&M polls Obama only wins 68% of Democrats but he leads the race because the polls show an overwhelming partisan advantage for the Ds.

So do other polls in PA show a similar margin? Well, I cannot find party ID breakdowns for the Rasmussen, Quinnipiac, and Strategic Vision (R) polls. So it’s hard to tell. I find it unlikely that Ds have gone from 41% of the electorate to 50%. But if that is true, the GOP is going to face a steep hill in winning back Congressional seats in addition to the Senate and Governor races in coming years. And a 50% Democratic electorate may be insurmountable for the McCain campaign.

Hopefully some other pollsters will give us a party ID breakdown in PA to see if they get something different from F&M.