Polls show conflicting results in Colorado, but one gives Obama a lead in North Carolina. More 2008 Obama voters are voting Republican than McCain voters are voting Democrat. Here's our guide to today's polls and why they matter
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Findings: Romney and Obama are tied in Colorado each with 47 percent, according to a Rasmussen poll, but according to a Public Policy Polling poll Obama is up 49 percent to 43 percent.
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Pollster: Rasmussen, Public Policy Polling
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Methodology: For Rasmussen: 500 likely voters were surveyed in Colorado August 6 via automated poll. The margin of sampling error "with a 95% level of confidence" is +/-4.5 percentage points. For PPP: 779 likely Colorado voters were surveyed from August 2 to 5 via automated telephone interviews. The margin of error is +/-3.5 percent.
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Why it matters: People who pay attention to state polls have paid close attention to Colorado because it was Obama's "tipping point" state in 2008, that is the state that put him over the 270 electoral college majority. Theoretically, Obama could be reelected by securing Colorado (which he carried by 9 points against John McCain) and all of the other states he won by bigger margins and still lose swing states like North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, and Florida. The inverse is goes for Romney: if he can take Colorado out of Obama's column in 2012, he likely has a good shot of winning the election. So, what to make of the two conflicting polls? The Hill, writing about the Rasmussen poll, notes that while the numbers "could be troubling news for the president," likely the poll "is simply evidence of a tight race in the crucial swing state, coupled with Rasmussen's conservative lean." Still, PPP, which leans Democratic, writes that "Colorado is emerging as a blue-leaning swing state rather than the red-leaning toss-up of elections just a few cycles ago." Sandra Fluke is introducing the president Wednesday in a campaign event in Denver. Romney's team is also working hard in Colorado.
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Caveat: Rasmussen leans Republican. PPP the opposite.
Findings: Obama leads in North Carolina 49 percent to Romney's 46 percent, widening from last month when he led by only one point. Though independent voters still lean Romney 48 percent to 44 percent, that's an increase for Obama in the past month, the poll notes. Obama's approval rating sits at -1, whereas in July it was at -3. As for Romney's favorability it has gone from 44 percent favorable and 47 percent unfavorable to 42 percent favorable and 50 percent unfavorable.
Pollster: Public Policy Polling
Methodology: 813 likely North Carolina voters were surveyed in automated telephone interviews between August 2 and August 5. The margin of error is +/-3.4 percent.
Why it matters: In their release PPP reaffirms that "North Carolina continues to be one of the closest states in the country." It is also one of the stops on Romney's swing-state tour starting Saturday.
Caveat: PPP leans Democratic. Most other recent polls in North Carolina have found a slight lead for Romney.
Findings: Whereas 86 percent of 2008 Obama voters say they will still be voting for Obama, 9 percent say they are going for Romney. This compares to 92 percent of McCain voters who say they are sticking with the Republican ticket. Only 5 percent of them are supporting Obama. Of 2008 Obama voters 5 percent are undecided compared to 3 percent of McCain voters.
Methodology: 2,440 registered voters aged 18 and older in all 50 states and D.C. who reported voting in 2008 were polled as part of Gallup Daily tracking between July 23 and 29. Margin of error for the total sample of 2008 voters is +/-3 percentage points. For 2008 Obama and McCain voters separately it is +/-4 percentage points.
Why it matters: As Gallup notes, the results show that mostly people are not changing their party preference, however "loyalty to Obama is slightly less than loyalty to the Republican candidates, resulting in a more competitive race at this point than in the final 2008 results." However, as Politico points out, Gallup explains that the race is still close because Obama's 2008 margin was so large "that he could still be tied or in the lead this year if his support is a few percentage points lower."
Caveat: Gallup notes those that are still undecided while small "could be crucial in deciding the outcome."