Roanoke College poll has Romney up by 5 in Virginia

Mitt Romney leads President Obama by 5 points in Virginia, 49 to 44, in a poll conducted by Roanoke College between Oct.23-26. The sample consisted of 638 likely voters. The margin of error is 4 points.

Using a more selective screen for identifying likely voters, Roanoke College’s poll found Romney ahead by a commanding 54-41 margin. Thus, if these results are accurate, Obama will need a strong turnout just to be competitive in Virginia.

But this wouldn’t be the 2012 presidential election without countervailing polling news. And, sure enough, Quinnipiac has released a poll of likely voters, from essentially the same time period, that finds Obama leading in Virginia by 49-47.

I discount the Quinnipiac results, however, because its sample consists of 35 percent Democrats and 28 percent Republicans. That’s a better split for the Dems than they enjoyed in 2008. There is little reason to believe that the Democrats will have that sort of advantage this year.

The Qunnipiac poll finds that Romney leads among independent voters in Virginia by a staggering 57-36 margin. If Romney actually does enjoy an edge of that magnitude with Virginia independents (and Roanoke College gives him an even larger 26 point edge) it seems almost inconceivable that he will lose the Commonwealth.

UPDATE: Quinnipiac also finds Obama ahead in Florida (by 1 point) and in Ohio (by 5 points). In these Florida, however, the sample reflects a larger mix of Democrats than what we saw in 2008. And in Ohio, the mix is nearly the same as in that election. And in both states Romney leads among independents (by 5 points in Florida and by 6 in Ohio).

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