Normally the national presidential polls tends to line up rather closely with the polling in the swing states. This election, however, there is a huge disparity. President Obama has only a small lead nationally but a large lead in the swing states.
Nationally, the race is unmoved from early September, with 49 percent of likely voters saying they would vote for Obama if the election were held today and 47 percent saying they would vote for Romney. Among all registered voters, Obama is up by a slim five percentage points, nearly identical to his margin in a poll two weeks ago.
But 52 percent of likely voters across swing states side with Obama and 41 percent with Romney in the new national poll, paralleling Obama’s advantages in recent Washington Post polls in Florida, Ohio and Virginia.
Swing states are “swing” because they tend to have a partisan make-up similar to the whole country. There simply shouldn’t be this huge of difference between how a candidate is doing nationally and how they are doing in the individual states that tend to mirror the partisan voting patterns of the entire nation.
This disparity could be the result of some strange new dynamic in which the reddest states have gotten dramatically more Republican while the rest of the country hasn’t changed, but that seems unlikely.
The most likely source for this disparity seems to be the campaigns. The one thing that makes swing states different from the rest of the country is that they are the only states where both presidential campaigns are truly working to try to persuade voters. It would seem that in states where the Obama campaign is actively engaged, it is successfully helping Obama overperform.
While the candidates are relatively evenly matched nationally, in the states where the two campaign infrastructure are directly competing against each other the Romney team is losing significantly.