CHARLOTTE, N.C. –– A much-respected pollster who has no candidate in the presidential race concluded that both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are both running lower than they should among several key groups each needs to win the presidency.
Among the most intriguing results of polling that John Zogby disclosed during a presentation for reporters at the Democratic National Convention here was the unusually strong showing among younger voters by Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, a “dangerously low” level of support for Obama among Hispanics, and a sharp drop in support from evangelical Christians for Romney in 2012 from the level they were at for John McCain in 2008.
Zogby (who doesn’t do “push” polling with likely voters) cannot say which candidate has momentum now. As he put it, “Romney didn’t get a big bounce after his acceptance speech in Tampa and President Obama won’t get a bounce [even] if he gives one of the most stirring speeches of his career, which he is capable of doing. It isn’t a ‘bounce’ election.”
As to who he thinks will win in November, the veteran pollster simply said: “I have no idea.”
“CENGA,” Hispanics, and the “Creative Class”
Zogby described Obama’s strong support in ’08 among voters aged 18-to-29, noting they have a sense of “global sensibility, like no other age” and they turned out in “record numbers” for the Democrat four years ago.
This group is still strongly for Obama but, according to Zogby, there is a new group emerging among the young that he calls “CENGA—College Educated Not Going Anywhere.” College graduates who are pessimistic about job prospects, he said, “are a small group and they don’t really trust anyone—not Obama, not the Republicans.”
Zogby’s survey research did note a striking trend among members of the 18-to-29-age group, specifically that “about 10 percent of them plan to vote for Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson. I don’t know if this trend will last but it shows a libertarian, anti-government trend growing among your people.”
Recalling how Obama drew 67 percent of the Hispanic vote against McCain, Zogby said his latest polling shows that figure down to 57 percent. However, he quickly added, “Romney’s at 26 percent among Hispanics, compared to McCain’s 31 per cent in the last election, I don’t see any evidence of the Republicans polling much better.”
Where President Obama could have a “huge problem” with Hispanic voters, says Zogby, is with the 16 percent who say they are undecided. According to Zogby, that figure could result in support for Obama among Hispanics that is “dangerously low.”
Another group that Obama scored decisively (61 percent in ’08) that Zogby discussed is “the creative class—that is people who are creative and professional, in jobs such as entertainment, media and health care. They helped put him over the top in twelve swing states that had previously gone for George W. Bush in ’04.”
Zogby’s latest polling on the “creative class” shows Obama leading Romney by 51 percent to 39 percent—“again, not enough,” he said.
Romney has problems, too
Where John McCain—a candidate not closely identified to evangelical Christians—received 70 percent of their votes in ’08, Zogby said, “Romney has consistently been leading the President among this group by 54 to 33 per cent. Once more, not good enough.”
More interesting figures among the “undecided” cited by the pollster was that one-third of that group “say they will never vote for him. Now I don’t know what they mean by ‘never,’ but for many it may have to do with him being a Mormon. Maybe you can’t talk that way, but I can. I’m an Arab American.”
Zogby believes that Romney did what he needed to do in his acceptance speech (“He said ‘I’m a fellow human being’”).
What will dwarf whatever Obama says on Thursday, according to Zogby, is “the unemployment figures that come out the next morning. When unemployment was at 9.3 percent, my polling showed an ‘unnamed Republican’ leading. When it dropped to 8.2 percent, Obama had a plurality. At 8.0 percent, Obama had a majority. Now it’s at 8.247 percent and my polling says it’s a tie.”