Home Virginia Politics Obama Up 8, as Long as Gender Gap Holds

Obama Up 8, as Long as Gender Gap Holds


by Paul Goldman

With the President having won Virginia by 6 points last time, there seems to be, given what I am reading, a tendency to think the 8-point Obama lead in the new PPP poll is just an extension of the 2008 results.

Not so. When you compare the 2008 exit polls to the PPP survey, the conclusion is clear: the two years have a fundamental difference right now. Why? The PPP pollsters are projecting not a Gender Gap but a huge GENDER GORGE unlike the Obama vs McCain race. In 2008, the small gender gap was within the margin of polling error, Obama winning women by a 3% net margin over men.

However, in the new PPP poll, the gender gap has become a RAVINE: +16% for the Big O.

As in: “O My GOD” if you are Mitt Romney.

A net 16 percentage points! In fact, in the PPP poll, Romney actually has a slight lead with men, although well within the margin error. But since McCain lost men in 2008 by 4%, the PPP number approaches statistical interest if it remains the same.


Remember that the 2008 exit poll is of actual voters, the PPP 2012 poll is a projection based on registered voters. As a general rule, a likely voter sample – and in the end, there is no better more likely sample than those who actually show up! – tends to be better for a Republicans on a net-net basis than the broader registered voter universe.

Meaning: Even with Romney’s badly upside down image – far more unfavorable than favorable – he would appear to have a chance to do meaningfully better than McCain among men in Virginia.

The bottom line PPP takeaway: This is the ultra poll of how badly the ultrasound/contraception coverage debate hurt not only Romney in Virginia but also Governor McDonnell if the PPP numbers are right. His “Veepness” doesn’t even break 50% approval.

Whoever advised McDonnell to take on the ultrasound issue this GA Session likely killed his chances of being VEEP, and also has made him a big underdog to Senator Warner in 2014. Great job!

McDonnell has a 46 FAV/36 UNFAV job rating now; that makes him  a non-factor in the presidential, and the same in the Governor’s race next year. Gone are the heady days of being 60+ for the favorable number. Those numbers would mean he would have to fight for re-election.

As we wrote here months ago, McDonnell would have been better backing Bob Marshall on personhood – at least you claim this was your religious belief – than doubling down on ultrasound by tinkering with the law as if this was going to change the perception. If McD thought he was making his bones nationwide with the GOP base as a VEEP litmus test, he messed up.

McDonnell has done the same thing in Tidewater with the toll issue. For some reason, his advisors think he is okay being for huge tolls because they poll better than gas taxes.


Given the Governor’s photogenic female family, he could have postured himself far different in the GA Session and come out perhaps at the top of Romney’s list.

But, back to Obama vs Romney: this PPP poll is all about the de facto GOP nominee being weak with moderately/moderately conservative GOP and independent women.

That’s good for the President, right?

Yes, and No.

Assume Romney is near his low point right now due to the fallout from the GOP nomination process. Further assume Romney and the GOP can figure out how to run a competent general election campaign.

Thus: With men, Romney should improve, meaning he could do something McCain failed to do: beat the President among men in Virginia. Presumably Romney will be able, with a competent running mate, to buck his weakness among the conservative base, including the ability to make sure they don’t vote for Virgil Goode running on the Constitution Party line.

RESULT: The election boils down to Romney men v. Obama women in the area of the 50-yard line, give or take.

Right now, this is no contest.

BUT: The GOP has 6 months warning on what happens come November if they stay the course on what women, at least from this poll, believe is a less-than-friendly Republican party on their issues of concern. Democrats call it a “War On Women.”

Republicans call that description unfair. From this poll, the women of Virginia say: sounds about right to me.

The PPP poll shows Romney weaker than McCain among seniors. This figures to change if the former Governor gets his act together.

At the same time, the under-30 crowd is lost to Romney; they will back the President this time, as they did last time, as they backed John Kerry.

BOTTOM STATISTICAL LINE: The actual troops lined up for the climactic battle are going to be white women of child bearing age and their mothers. African-Americans and Latinos are solidly Democratic, little reason to think anything will happen there except more support for the President.

I just report, you decide as the saying goes, but the stats don’t lie. And in case the GOP high command hasn’t noticed, these women are, shall we say, not overly impressed with what you good old boys are doing. As these white women go, so goes the nation.

In the book “Game Change,” Senator McCain’s staff choose Sarah Palin because they feared a similar gender issue.

According to PPP, Mrs. Palin may have actually saved McCain from Romney’s current fate! So maybe Sarah is getting a bad rap after all.

2012 is not just 2008 these 4 years later. It is a different election, or at last that is true right now. Last time, it was young folks against seniors. But this time: it is 30-64 year old women against themselves.

I caution: If Romney can right the ship, the PPP poll suggests he can possibly get back to where McCain was against women in terms of the exit polls.

The MATH then? It would be too close for an exit poll, although the President would be favored to win in a very close election.

Bottom line: Don’t be fooled by the 8 point top line polling lead. The fact that Romney appears to doing better than McCain among men, while running significantly behind among Republicans, tells you McDonnell, et. al screwed up big time in Virginia and hurt the presumptive GOP nominee.

So that ultrasound you hear is the curse words rattling around Romney’s national headquarters every time the name of McDonnell is mentioned, along with the Fox News anchors who convinced the party to turn a health care discussion into a debate on conception coverage.          


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