An article in The People's View by Spandan Chakrabarti from July 28, 2014 pretty successfully sucks the life out of the story that has been giving the GOP quite a thrill and a real fright at the same time.
The poll, taken between July 18 and 20, purportedly shows that in a redo of the 2012 election Romney beats Obama by 9 points, 53 to 44 percent- thrilling for the GOP. In a hypothetical Romney vs. Clinton match, he lose by 13 points.- frightening for the GOP.
Chakrabarti pokes holes in the story in an analysis of the polling sample by showing that the sample over-represents GOP voters, and goes on to postulate that the Democratic respondents seem to lean "PUMA". Further, the author notes, the poll takes place in a landscape where Romney is no longer being scrutinized and Obama is being savaged by the media every day. Thus, Romney glows and Obama blows!
To be specific. The author points out that "CNN failed to disclose most of the the crosstabs that matter - i.e. while they broke down support by party, region, age, and race, they did not disclose what portion of their polled electorate belonged to each category, except for party."
Still, the greatest flaw in the poll is that CNN is fudging the numbers- something it regularly does- which I suspect is a headline grabbing ploy.
The polling report says this about its sample:32% described themselves as Democrats, 24% described themselves as Republicans, and 44% described themselves as Independents or members of another party.
That's an 8-point edge for Democrats, in keeping with Dem registration and presidential election turnout advantages. If true, the poll makes it clear that there are a lot of Dems with voters remorse.....but....
Digging deeper one finds that 278 respondents described themselves as GOP with another 192 independent sstating that they generally voted Republican for a total of 470.
303 respondents said they were Democrats with another 146 independent leaning Dem for a total of 449.
THAT'S 470 (46%) GOP LIKELY, AND 449 ((44%) DEM LIKELY OUT OF 1012 TOTAL RESPONDENT. THAT' 919. SO THERE ARE 93 (9%) "REAL" INDEPENDENTS.
CNN's summary claimed that the sample had an 8-point advantage for Dems when there is actually a 2-point advantage for the GOP.
In that same CNN summary Romney wins women 52-45. Romney favors repealing Roe v. Wade, endorses the Hobby Lobby decisions, and wants the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act overturned. Have women suddenly turned sharply to the right?
In that same summary Romney wins white voter by 63-34. The GOP's own number crunchers admit that 59% is their white voter ceiling. The CNN numbers also claim that Obama only gets 63% of the non-white vote (when he got 80% in 2012) and that Romney's numbers experiencing a corresponding increase. SO, minorities are also shifting right in an environment where the GOP is sponsoring wide spread and sweeping "voting reforms", is opposed to any immigration reform, and is undermining support for public education and social programming in general.
Chakrabarti explains that the advantage "comes from a combination of higher Democratic support and a major swing (2 out of 3) among non-leaning independents polled (assuming you hold Dem-leaning independents constant). Essentially 2 out of three all the non-leaners that would choose Romney over Obama would have to switch to Clinton over Romney (the rest can be chalked up to sampling error and the fact that presidents in office actually have to do things rather than simply bloviate)."
The author then goes on to point out the Democrats have their own anti-Obama crowd and postulates that the sample likely over-represents PUMA Democrats - i.e. self-described fringe Democrats who never could stand this president. Chakrabarti defines this group rather narrowly as those whose opposition is primarily racial but my understanding of the term includes those opposed to Obama for a wide variety of reasons ideological, ethnic and pragmatic.
PUMA ("People United Means Action") was a political action committee opposed to the Democratic Party's nomination of Obama arguing that Hillary Clinton was the far better choice. They could not stand Barack Obama's nomination in 2008 and despite the demise of of the PAC have continued to throw monkey wrenches into his presidency from the Left and Right within the Democratic Party and among Democratic leaning indpendents.
Many of these people left the Democratic party over Clinton's loss of the nomination. PUMAs were heavily... white women - which would account for both Romney's sudden advantage among women in the poll as well as Hillary Clinton's subsequent edge.
Chakrabarti closes with this mportant reminder: "There are lies, damned lies, and statistics. This doesn't mean statistics is junk science. But it does mean that it is incredibly easy to manipulate numbers in statistics. When properly done, statistics are an invaluable tool for the truth. When manipulated or cooked, it is a dangerous weapon in the hands of the manipulator as well as the manipulated."