Michael Barone Sees a Suburban Swing Towards Romney

Michael Barone has his usual smart take on the election with a great little nugget for why Romney is closing strong in Pennsylvania and Michigan but isn’t seeing the comparable moves in Ohio:

Barack Obama’s campaign spent huge sums on anti-Romney ads to create a firewall in three states that the president won narrowly in 2008 — Florida, Ohio, and Virginia. But post-debate polling shows Romney ahead in Florida and tied in Virginia. National Journal’s Major Garrett reported last week that Obama strategist David Plouffe omitted Florida and Virginia in a list of key states but mentioned Ohio, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada. Obama carried the latter three by ten, ten, and twelve points respectively in 2008. So much for the firewall. In addition, polling shows Romney ahead in Colorado, which Obama carried by nine points last time, and the race closing in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, which Obama carried by 14, 10, and 16 points respectively.

That tends to validate my alternative scenario that Mitt Romney would fare much better in affluent suburbs than have the previous Republican nominees since 1992, and would run more like George Bush did in 1988. The only way Pennsylvania and Michigan can be close is if Obama’s support in affluent Philadelphia and Detroit suburbs has melted away. This also helps explain why Romney still narrowly trails in Ohio polls. Affluent suburban counties cast about one-quarter of the votes in Pennsylvania and Michigan but only one-eighth in Ohio.

A pro-Romney swing among the affluent is confirmed by the internals of some national polls. The 2008 exit poll showed Obama narrowly carrying voters with incomes over $75,000. Post-debate Pew Research and Battleground polls have shown affluent suburbanite Romney carrying them by statistically significant margins. In particular, college-educated women seem to have swung toward Romney since October 3. He surely had them in mind in the foreign-policy debate when he kept emphasizing his hopes for peace and pledged no more wars like those in Iraq and Afghanistan.


  1. No Tribe
    Posted October 25, 2012 at 8:47 am | Permalink | Reply

    Here comes the big push. Colin Powell and the other DCites don’t want to lose their cushiness that easily. I would measure it by what I said earlier, expecting a 1-2 percent rise in the poll numbers of Obama, starting from 47% And then next week, in the closing days, a similar move toward Romney. That’s the norm, so I’m looking for a divergence.

    Crossroads ads are really really good in this latest round. Particularly the one of mom and pop about their son, which is a minute long, and airing in Wisconsin and Michigan. And “Bow” which is airing in Ohio and other battleground states. But the quote it has on it from Sherrod Brown (twice) is devastating.

    I don’t think there’s a response to Colin Powell. Just let it pass. He’s respected, but I think the Clint Eastwood ad is going to do its part.

    Oh, and the Michigan poll today. Right into Nate Silvers lap, lol.

  2. Posted October 25, 2012 at 8:58 am | Permalink | Reply

    I’m worried about Ohio. Early Voting and the non-stop Obama anti-Romney ad blitz may get the D base near 2008 levels. I would consider looking at PA next week.
    Since PA has so far been left out of the Obama negative ad blitz the enthusiasm just isn’t here for Democrats in PA this year. Bob Casey certainly isn’t motivating the base.

  3. Porchlight
    Posted October 25, 2012 at 9:09 am | Permalink | Reply

    Why Barone isn’t the king of American political media I’ll never know.

    • wholefoodsrepublican
      Posted October 25, 2012 at 9:19 am | Permalink | Reply

      and what about keith??

      • Porchlight
        Posted October 25, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

        He’s on his way. 😉

  4. allthingsgeography1
    Posted October 25, 2012 at 9:11 am | Permalink | Reply

    I’ve been looking into the 1988 election as a possible analogue to 2012. I do believe the election will be very close across the industrial Great Lakes states on November 6th because of the suburbs. That may end up being a surprising “center of battle” beyond Ohio. Ultimately, Obama must hold everything, which I must admit is becoming more difficult than I would’ve anticipated even a month ago. I do know that in most battleground state polls I’ve seen, regardless of who leads, Romney seems to be winning the independent vote, many of home live in suburban America. Bad news.

    • No Tribe
      Posted October 25, 2012 at 9:16 am | Permalink | Reply

      This looks more like ’80 and ’92 to me, in terms of the way it is ending. A big undercurrent that the media is missing, with clues everywhere.

      • allthingsgeography1
        Posted October 25, 2012 at 9:28 am | Permalink

        I personally always thought Romney was being underestimated. My fellow liberals underestimate and demonize him, Obama clearly underestimated and demonized him and yet since the first debate he’s been winning! I’m not exactly Romney’s biggest fan here, but the biggest mistake you can make is underestimating your opponents ability to defeat you. It’s not like we’re talking about some third party candidate here. He’s a candidate from a major political party that has run (granted we can debate how well he ran it) a solid blue state and has appealed to suburbanites north of a Mason-Dixon line. The economy while improved is still crappy. Obama has strengths but also vulnerabilities. Did he not sit down and assess his own vulnerabilities his opponent would use against him? So many dumb mistakes…how can he fight Romney when he hasn’t even assessed himself, his mistakes (at least admit them to himself, if not everyone) and fight for a second term. I think Obama had a good thing going, but his arrogance, like leading up to the 2010 Elections, may have gotten him into a lot of trouble. His arrogance of inevitability is leading to his defeat. If Obama doesn’t survive November 6th, expect columns in left-leaning magazines to talk about that stuff in reflection.

      • Posted October 25, 2012 at 9:41 am | Permalink

        allthingsgeography, I think these have been Obama’s great weakness in office – poor self assessment and underestimating and under appreciating his opponents. I think he and many on the left were shocked by the 2010 election because they didn’t see it coming, but many of us on the right felt it.

        That’s what I feel right now. The first campaign where I was really aware was 1992 and I have never seen this kind of enthusiasm, even for Obama in 2008. I felt that was a wave coming in the opposite direction and others felt it, so they stayed home (having McCain didn’t help).

        We’ve also seen with new polling numbers that people are begin to like Romney – his favorable in many polls have surpassed Obama. Obama’s record of accomplishment has always been a problem. Obamacare is not popular (and I’ve already heard from people who are learning going into the election that their benefits have been cut due to Obamacare – that will hurt him horribly) and that’s his signature accomplishment. So his only chance was to go negative, but he got his hands dirty in doing so. His likeability has always been one of his assets, but he has thrown it away with a lot of voters due to the negativity.

    • wholefoodsrepublican
      Posted October 25, 2012 at 9:21 am | Permalink | Reply

      but one has to realize that there has been significant demographic changes since 80 and 92.

      • allthingsgeography1
        Posted October 25, 2012 at 9:30 am | Permalink

        There certainly have been…but some things haven’t changed. And that’s the swing tendencies of the suburbs. That’s mostly what I was getting at.

  5. JGS
    Posted October 25, 2012 at 10:42 am | Permalink | Reply

    Curious as to your take on the latest PPP poll in Virginia that came out early this morning, showing Obama +5 with a D+5 sample. I know that in Rasmussen’s latest poll they showed Romney up by 3 with a sample that was R+2, and I know that the 2008 exit polls showed D+6 in Virginia but R+4 in 2004. So I am wondering whether you think that Romney is presently up or down in Virginia, and whether this indicates any slippage since the third debate.



    • Posted October 25, 2012 at 10:52 am | Permalink | Reply

      That won’t happen. Punch PPP into the search engine on the left and you’ll see why I ignore that biased outfit.

  6. ACruz
    Posted October 25, 2012 at 10:43 am | Permalink | Reply

    Suburban Swing is the Elephant in the Room. Pollsters are missing the huge grass roots swell of movement on normally on reported voters behavior. The suburban voters GOTV and turnout will be the October Surprise!

One Trackback

  1. By Iowa | Economics of the 2012 Presidential Election on October 30, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    […] So what will ultimately tip the scale for either Obama or Romney? Well, like in Ohio and Virginia, the vote in Iowa may very well be determined by independents in quickly growing, and changing, suburban areas. […]

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