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Polls favor Obama. A conspiracy by Democrats and the media? (+video)

More voters consider themselves Democrats rather than Republicans, and this is reflected in opinion polls showing Barack Obama ahead of Mitt Romney. Critics say the results are skewed.

By Staff writer / September 29, 2012

Early voters congregate at the election office at the Black Hawk County Courthouse as they get ready to vote Thursday in Waterloo, Iowa. Iowa is one of 32 states that allow early voting.

Matthew Putney/The Waterloo Courier/AP

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Recent polling – especially in key battleground states – shows President Barack Obama with a widening lead over challenger Mitt Romney. It’s dispiriting to Republican leaders, and it would seem to put more wind into the Obama campaign’s sails headed into next week’s first presidential debate.

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The Monitor's Liz Marlantes looks at the potential electoral-college math post-convention to see which candidate might be in a better position.

But among conservative commentators and some in the GOP, that just proves one thing: That the polls are rigged to give Democrats an apparent advantage, and that the mainstream media is buying into what amounts to a conspiracy by playing up such survey results.

“They're trying to wrap this up before the debates even start,” Rush Limbaugh said on his radio show this week. “I think they're trying to get this election finished and in the can by suppressing your vote and depressing you so that you just don't think there's any reason to vote, that it's hopeless.”

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The essence of the complaint is that pollsters are basing their reports on too many Democrats having been surveyed – that when results showing Obama ahead by 6-8 points are properly weighted by party affiliation, the race is dead-even with Romney actually ahead in some places.

The response from professional pollsters is that any difference in the party balance of those surveyed is a reflection of how voters identify themselves today: 35 percent Democrats, 28 percent Republicans, and 33 percent Independents.

As both campaigns know, it’s also a fluid situation with how voters identify their party leanings right now more important than how they last registered. It’s why both campaigns are angling for cross-over voters and especially Independents. If Obama and Romney were to get everybody who identifies with their party plus half the Independents, Obama – today, at least – would win by 7 points.

“Party identification changes as political tides change,” Frank Newport, Gallup’s editor-in-chief, wrote this week in his response to the controversy. “General shifts in the political environment can affect party identification just as they can affect presidential job approval and results of the ‘Who are you going to vote for?’ question.”

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