If there is one thing we can say about the polling coming out in advance of tomorrow's Florida primary, it is that somebody is going to wind up having serious egg on their face tomorrow.
The range of the pre-election polling in the Sunshine State? Well, maybe it is tightening, and Newt Gingrich is back within the margin of error. Or maybe Mitt Romney is now staked to a 20 point advantage.
As has happened fairly often in this bizarre primary cycle, there is a poll out there on election eve to suit your favored meme, as you can tell from this list:
NATIONAL (Gallup Tracking): Gingrich 28, Romney 27, Santorum 16, Paul 13
FLORIDA (Insider Advantage): Romney 36, Gingrich 31, Paul 12, Santorum 12
FLORIDA (NBC News/Marist): Romney 42, Gingrich 27, Santorum 16, Paul 11
FLORIDA (PPP Tracking): Romney 39, Gingrich 32, Santorum 14, Paul 11*
FLORIDA (Quinnipiac): Romney 43, Gingrich 29, Paul 11, Santorum 11
FLORIDA (Rasmussen): Romney 44, Gingrich 28, Santorum 12, Paul 10
FLORIDA (Suffolk University): Romney 47, Gingrich 27, Santorum 12, Paul 9
FLORIDA (SurveyUSA): Romney 41, Gingrich 26, Paul 12, Santorum 12
FLORIDA (We Ask America): Romney 44, Gingrich 25, Paul 10, Santorum 10
(*)--New tracking numbers will be released this evening.
The picture is no less muddy on the general election front, where it is either a dead heat between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, or a reasonably healthy lead for the president. And it is the House of Ras that is the one that's so bullish on the president!
NATIONAL (Gallup): Obama tied with Romney (48-48); Obama d. Paul (49-46); Obama d. Santorum (51-43); Obama d. Gingrich (53-41)
NATIONAL (Rasmussen Tracking): Obama d. Romney (47-41); Obama d. Gingrich (52-35)
FLORIDA (NBC News/Marist): Obama d. Romney (49-41); Obama d. Paul (50-36); Obama d. Santorum (50-35); Obama d. Gingrich (52-35)
FLORIDA (Mason Dixon): Romney d. Obama (48-44); Obama d. Gingrich (50-41); Obama d. Santorum (50-39)
Some final thoughts on Florida, and a look at the road ahead, after the jump.
Before we delve into the numbers, you gotta love the preemptive strike from a local Florida paper, who wanted to fire off an early warning as to why their poll might be right, even though everyone else had a different result:
In polling terminology, our poll is what’s called an outlier (for a set of numerical data, any value that is markedly smaller or larger than other values).
However, there is one factor that works in our favor. The News-Press poll’s sample size (2,567 likely voters) is three to four times larger than that of other pollsters and thus our poll has a very small margin of error (1.93 percent) with a confidence level of 95 percent.
In other words, the confidence interval associated with the sample in our poll is such that 95 percent of the time results will be within 1.93 percent of the “true values.” True values refer to the results obtained if it were possible to interview every “likely” voter in the state.
Most pollsters don’t interview large sample sizes because of the time and cost involved. Therefore, they have a larger margin of error, usually in the 4-5 percentage range.
In layman’s terms, the more people you talk to the less likely you’re going to be wrong.
Polling geeks can read, and enjoy, that little bit at their leisure.
Speaking of Florida polling, the Dixie Strategies/News-Press/FirstCoast News poll alluded to above (and ain't that a mouthful) isn't going to be the only one trying to explain away their data on Wednesday morning. With a range stretching from 5-20 points, it is evident that someone is going to be in error. While the final edition of the PPP tracking poll won't be out until a little later this evening, Tom Jensen did hint earlier today that Romney might be edging out towards double digits in their tracker, as well.
So, it seems inevitable now that Romney will win Florida. The only question now is the all-important question of margin. The "as expected", at this point, is probably around a dozen points. Anything less, and the win becomes underwhelming for Romney, which is unbelievable given where this race was a week ago. Such is the instantaneous nature of the expectations game in this cycle, it would seem.
What's more, there are small signs that Romney's rebound in Florida is not being replicated nationally. Our polling pals at PPP have been in the field in a couple of new states: Ohio and Missouri. Jensen tweeted today that Romney is not exactly rocking the house in those two states. Meanwhile, Romney is still languishing in the 20s in the Gallup tracker, where the margin with Gingrich has only tightened because some of Newt's supporters appear to have bled over to Santorum (who is up a handful of points over the past few days).
The bottom line--Florida may be done. The nomination fight, meanwhile, is most assuredly not over yet.