Ironically, it was the WaPo’s own Jen Rubin who forced her paper to explain the poll.
(WaPo/Right Turn) — In the Washington Post-ABC News poll and the Battleground Poll, both of which show a race within the margin of error nationally and with President Obama under 50 percent, Mitt Romney supporters will find confirmation that the contest’s dynamics have changed very little, if at all, since the summer. The dramatic ups and downs in August and September seem to be a wash.
But wait, is the race still in the bag for Obama, as some would have you believe?
You’ve got to get deep into the weeds to tell what is going on. The Washington Post-ABC pollsters tell us that “52 percent of likely voters across swing states side with Obama and 41 percent with Romney in the new national poll.” But without the proper context, readers may jump to an incorrect conclusion when they see that figure, concluding that Obama is home-free in swing states. As I learned from Post pollster Jon Cohen, that finding is based on the responses of a total of 160 people, and it has a margin of error of 8 percentage points. So yes, there may be a difference between swing-state and national numbers, but the gap might be very small or it might be big.
Moreover, the swing-state votes aren’t aggregated. You need to look at each one separately. The presidential contest is a race to 270 electoral votes. So the true battleground states (sorry, that doesn’t mean Michigan or Pennsylvania) are where things will matter.