Data Analysis: Mitt Romney Extends his National Poll Lead thanks to Independent Voters

Washington Dispatch Poll of Polls for October 15, 2012:  Romney Extends Lead

Mitt Romney (48.1%) leads Barack Obama (46.6%) by 1.5% nationally heading into their second debate tomorrow evening.  This represents the highest level of support for Mr. Romney thus far.

The two new polls released today with Obama out front by ABC/Washington Post and GWU/BattleGround actually increased Romney’s poll number in the aggregation.

Both ABC and GWU showed the same trend as other polls – Romney out in front big with independents.  But both polls actually increased their sample of Democrats over their last editions.

In other words, the internal data in both polls IMPROVED for Romney over the prior ABC and GWU polls, but the topline result worsened as the Dem sample increased.

If Romney wins independents by more than 5% on election day, he’ll win the popular vote.

Links to Individual Polls:



ABC/Washington Post

Survey USA

FOX News

American Research Group




Rather than simply averaging the overall result of major national polls pitting President Obama against Mitt Romney (as is done on sites like Real Clear Politics), The Washington Dispatch digs into the cross-tabs of data behind major national polls (those that freely publish the necessary data breaking down responses by party identification), and averages each candidates’ share of the vote among Republicans, Democrats, and Independents.  Then, these shares are applied to the actual turnout by party identification (as measured by CNN’s comprehensive exit polling of between 13,000 and 18,000 respondents for the 200420062008, and 2010 elections) for the past four national elections. To calculate poll numbers for The Washington Dispatch’s official head-to-head match-up between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, each candidates’ average share of the vote by party affiliation is applied to the average turnout by party affiliation over the past four national elections.