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A new poll out today from the GOP polling crew at We Ask America raised some serious eyebrows this morning, and it raises a very fair question: is there any reason why the pundit class should still call Ohio a "tossup" between Mitt Romney and the president?

We'll investigate the case for and against designating the Buckeye State as a coin flip, but first, on to the numbers:

PRESIDENTIAL GENERAL ELECTION TRIAL HEATS:

NATIONAL (Rasmussen Tracking): Romney d. Obama (49-44)

NORTH DAKOTA (DFM Research for the ND Democratic Party): Romney d. Obama (54-35)

OHIO (We Ask America—R): Obama d. Romney (48-40-2)

WISCONSIN (Rasmussen): Obama d. Romney (49-46)

DOWNBALLOT POLLING:
AZ-06—R (Wenzel Strategies for Citizens United): Rep. David Schweikert 47, Rep. Ben Quayle 34

NV-SEN (Rasmussen): Sen. Dean Heller (R) 51, Shelley Berkley (D) 42

NH-01 (PPP for Credo Action): "Someone Else" 45, Rep. Frank Guinta (R) 39

ND-SEN (DFM Research for the ND Democratic Party): Heidi Heitkamp (D) 50, Rick Berg (R) 44

TN-03—R (Wenzel Strategies for Citizens United): Rep. Chuck Fleischmann 40, Scottie Mayfield 28, Weston Wamp 19, Ron Bhalla 2

WA-01 PRIMARY (SurveyUSA): John Koster (R) 38, Suzan DelBene (D) 17, Darcy Burner (D) 13, Laura Ruderman (D) 6, Steve Hobbs (D) 5, Darshan Rauniyar (D) 2, Larry Ishmael (I) 2

WA-01 GENERAL (SurveyUSA): John Koster (R) 42, Suzan DelBene (D) 42; Koster 44, Darcy Burner (D) 42; Koster 43, Laura Ruderman (D) 37, Koster 43, Steve Hobbs (D) 36; Koster 44, Darshan Rauniyar (D) 32

A few thoughts, as always, await you just past the jump...

On a relatively quiet polling day, the banner headline that elicited a gasp or two from both partisan camps was the new survey from conservative polling outfit We Ask America. W.A.A's poll gives Barack Obama a fairly comfortable eight-point advantage over Mitt Romney in Ohio. For almost the entire cycle, the conventional wisdom has been that the 2012 presidential election was going to be decided in Florida, Virginia...and Ohio.

In this most recent poll out of the Buckeye State, it is worth noting that Barack Obama claimed nearly 20 percent of the Republican vote. This was a finding that struck the right-leaning polling crew at W.A.A. as curious, so they took a pretty extraordinary measure to confirm it:

What pops out immediately is the high percentage of self-described Republicans who say they will vote for Barack Obama over Mitt Romney.  An outlier?  Perhaps.  But we went back into the field last night to test it again. The results: almost identical.  Hmmm.  We going [sic] to keep an eye on that.
How often does a pollster get a finding, and they are so certain that it is sketchy that they run another sample just to make sure? Wow.

The bottom line may well be that this state, where Democrats have historically run between 2-5 percent below their national margins (2004 was a notable exception), is now a purple state with stronger shades of blue than red.

Consider: Barack Obama has led in 30 out of 36 polls conducted during this cycle in Ohio. Mitt Romney has led in just five polls, and one poll was tied. President Obama's lead, in the last five polls conducted there (dating back exactly one month), has averaged just a shade under six points.

It is a sign of the conservative tendencies (in both the political and apolitical sense of the word) of the press that they consider Ohio to be a toss-up, while hinting that North Carolina (where the average Romney lead in the last month has been 0.6 percent) leans Republican.

Anyone who has been following this election closely, and isn't trying to parrot the electoral C.W., would consider Barack Obama the favorite to grab Ohio's 18 electoral votes come November, barring a sea change in the electoral calculus.

In other polling news...

  • Speaking of sea changes, the long-term conventional wisdom that the red state of North Dakota was going to yield an automatic GOP pickup when Kent Conrad retired is all but gone at this point. Another Democratic poll, this one for the state party, gives Democrat Heidi Heitkamp a respectable edge over Republican Rick Berg. What's more: it puts her at 50 percent of the vote. And lest anyone suggest a goosed sample, the same poll shows the president getting blasted by nearly 20 points when paired with Mitt Romney.
  • After deflating Democrats with their previous poll in the great Northwest, SurveyUSA returns to the newly-drawn Washington 1st district (now fairly described as somewhat of a swing district). This time around, the numbers are far more equivocal, with either of the leading Democrats (Suzan DelBene or Darcy Burner) able to hang with Republican John Koster (who is much better known in the newer parts of the district). The previous SUSA poll here had Koster running away with the general election against all comers. The newly-created 1st district remains one of the most plausible pickups for the GOP this November.
  • For those who were wondering, Gallup's daily tracking poll was not updated today. But fear not (!): they will resume their updates over the weekend. A load off your minds, to be sure. Meanwhile, in the interim, enjoy yourself by challenging your conservative friends with the following wager: you'll take Barack Obama in November, and they'll take Mitt Romney and lay you the five points that the House of Ras claims is the current lead in the election for Mittens. To say that I am skeptical would be a pretty gross understatement. As we have often said here on the Wrap: when you have one result, and everyone else has another result, chances are it isn't everyone else that is in error.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Fri Jul 27, 2012 at 05:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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