I’ve been paying particular attention to how independents are swinging in the polls. Nationally it’s pretty clear the Romney is winning among independents and by pretty good margins. I decided to look a little closer at Ohio’s independent voters and learned a few things along the way. The Ohio polls show a wide variance in what they are reporting about independent voter preferences. I brought this inconsistency up to Eric Radenmacher, Ph.D. who fields the Ohio Poll from the University of Cincinnati. He pointed out the small sample sizes for independents in his and other polls which make the results more volatile.
Not satisfied with not getting a clearer read on the situation I decided to create my own average of independent voters in Ohio based on those polls currently in the RCP average for that state. Fortunately for me all of these polls have published their crosstabs or enough data to be able create the average (Rasmussen is by subscription, but I am a subscriber so I was able to see the data).
Here’s what I found.
Most of the polls have Romney holding a 4 point or greater lead among independents. The previously aforementioned University of Cincinnati poll and the CNN/ORC poll are the only ones showing Obama leading independents. Averaged together based on the number of respondents in each poll, Romney is leading with a +4 spread.
In 2008, the exit polls showed that independents were about 30% of the Ohio electorate and they went for Obama by an 8 point spread. If Romney is winning among independents, as most of the polls show, then a slight improvement in turnout by Republicans (as is expected do to higher enthusiasm and lower enthusiasm Democrats) should mean a Romney win in that state and probably the electoral college.