POLLSTER UPDATE: Could Pennsylvania Be A 2016 Swing State?


It's a good time to ignore horse race numbers in Virginia, but a fine time to speculate about battleground states in 2016. Eliot visits Elliot, the most Democratic county in the U.S. And polling proves that Americans love their mothers more. Happy Mothers' Day! This is the HuffPost Pollster update for Friday, May 10, 2013.

PAY NO ATTENTION TO THOSE EARLY HORSE RACE NUMBERS - Drawing on recent polls in Virginia, Harry Enten has a reminder that can't be repeated too often: "[D]oes this current polling actually tell us anything about what will happen on election day? Not really. At this point in 2009, all but one scientific poll had eventual winner and current Republican Governor Bob McDonnell winning by 9pt or less....McDonnell won by 17pt.... Go back to the 2005. Through this point in the campaign, not a single poll had the eventual winner, Democrat Tim Kaine, ahead. A few polls had him down as much as 10pt, while the majority had him behind by mid-to-high single digits. Republican Jerry Kilgore trailed in only one public poll, all the way through early October! Tim Kaine, of course, went on to win by 6pt. Overall, the polling at this point and through September has been off by about 10-15pt the last two elections." [Guardian]

WILL PENNSYLVANIA BE A TOP GOP TARGET IN 2016? - The Cook Political Report's Amy Walter thinks it might be: "Pennsylvania represents the biggest promise--and biggest chunk of electoral votes--for Republicans in 2016. It has a Hispanic population of just under 6 percent and has been trending Republican since 1998. The only question now is whether Republicans can finally find the key to unlock the Keystone state...The only blue states that have become less blue since 1998 are Iowa, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania. [Cook Political]

Christie a potential 'Keystone' - When flipping through the list of potential 2016ers, which candidate looks the best-positioned to break-through in Philly? Perhaps a certain Republican Governor just across the Delaware river. The most recent Quinnipiac poll found GOP Gov. Chris Christie getting 59 percent of the vote in the part of New Jersey covered by the Philadelphia media market." [ibid]

Nate Cohn - "Seriously? 'If Romney had gotten just 45 percent...in PHI...he would have won PA.' Is that supposed to sound easy?" [@electionate]

A SOUTHERN WHITE COUNTY THAT'S STILL BLUE- HuffPost's Eliot Nelson visits rural Elliot County, Kentucky, the only county in the nation that has supported a Democrat for President in every election since its incorporation 1869, and the only rural Southern county won by Barack Obama in 2012: "Elliott is anything but diverse. According to the Census Bureau, more than 95 percent of its residents are white, making it the second-whitest county in the country to vote for President Barack Obama in November, after Mitchell County, Iowa...Yet Elliott's voter registration numbers are staggering: 4,691 of the county's registered voters are Democrats, while just 227 are Republicans, according to the Kentucky Board of Elections....Like most of Eastern Kentucky, Elliott is a poor and relatively isolated place, helping insulate it from the rest of Kentucky's Republican shift. Wage levels are well below state and national averages, and roughly one-third of the population lives below the poverty line. Unemployment stands at nearly 13 percent. As such, government still serves an indispensable role."

Our Eliot on why Elliot's so blue - Elliot is hardly the only poor, white rural county in the South, yet it has remained stubbornly loyal to the Democrats. Nelson thinks the answer owes to a combination of "a deep, personal connection to the Democratic Party, through the opportunities and assistance the government has provided" and "tight-knit communal bonds in Elliott that define local politics." [HuffPost]

AND BECAUSE WE LOVE OUR MOTHERS... - "Although the job of being a mom has become more difficult, Americans credit their moms more than their dads for contributing in a positive way to their development over the course of their lives. A new national survey of registered voters from Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind finds that three-quarters (74%) of respondents believe moms have it harder today as compared with generations past, and by an almost two-to-one margin, Americans credit their mothers (46%) more than their fathers (24%) for cultivating positive traits over the course of their lives." [Public Mind Poll]

FRIDAY'S 'OUTLIERS' - Links to more news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:

-Gallup will report findings from an internal review of its 2012 election polling in early June. [Gallup]

-Only 17 percent of Americans have heard a lot about the deadly factory collapse in Bangladesh. [HuffPost]

-Scott Clement and Sean Sullivan say Democrats should be concerned by stagnating youth turnout. [WaPost]

-Michael McDonald sees a failure to mobilize young voters in 2012. [HuffPost]

-Forty six percent of Americans say not enough media coverage of Gosnell trial, but only 25 percent that they're following it themselves. [Gallup]

-New York Times' Sarah Wheaton considers whether CPS data shows black turnout surpassing white turnout in 2008. [NYTimes]

-Yahoo News columnist Chris Wilson questions the CPS turnout data. [Yahoo]

-Charlie Cook says Virginia will be a better test of of the national political environment than South Carolina. [Cook Political]

-We Ask America finds Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker with a -10 job approval rating among voters. [We Ask America]

-Scott Rasmussen thinks the Benghazi hearings are likely to be a bust. [Rasmussen]

-Masket, Duffy and Brown make the argument for public funding of political science research. [Denver Post]

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