With campaign polling so ubiquitous, I’m not often driven to report on a survey this far out from Election Day. Horse race polling this early can be deceiving and the volume of surveys produced has made it more difficult to identify significant trends.
But every rule has an exception, and the poll of battleground independents conducted for Third Way, a centrist Democratic think tank, merits discussion. The organization’s latest poll reveals the complexity of choices before independent voters — a crucial demographic that could determine the outcome of the Nov. 6 elections — and the subtle nuances that could influence whom they might ultimately support.
Third Way surveyed independent voters in a dozen battleground states, including Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.
Perhaps the poll’s most informative findings in terms of educating us on the direction of the 2012 presidential race and what might affect the outcome: Third Way reports in a memo discussing the survey that it has refined its data to identify the 38 percent of independent voters that are still “up for grabs” — voters it designates as “swing state independents” — and discovered that while this demographic has more positive feelings toward President Barack Obama than his presumptive Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, these voters are “closer ideologically” to the former Massachusetts governor.