Michael Warren is a reporter for The Weekly Standard.
A new poll from USA Today and Gallup shows President Barack Obama behind both Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum in key 2012 swing states. In those states, Santorum beats Obama by 5 points, 50 percent to 45 percent, while Romney edges out Obama by 2 points, 48 percent to 46 percent. A seperate, national poll by USA Today and Gallup found Santorum over Obama, 49 percent to 46 percent, and Romney tied with Obama at 47 percent.
Between February 14 and 21, the poll surveyed 1,137 voters from 12 states, including Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, New Hampshire, and Iowa. USA Today and Gallup also found that in those swing states, Obama's health care law is very unpopular, suggesting voters there may be looking to elect a president who would repeal the law.
But in the latest Battleground poll from George Washington University and Politico, Obama tops Santorum, 53 percent to 42 percent, in a head to head match-up. In that same poll, Obama has a similar margin over Romney, 53 percent to 43 percent. The group of respondents leans slightly toward the Democrats, though perhaps that's insignificant, but the geographical distribution seems to overrepresent the northeast (21 percent of respondents, while roughly 18 percent of the population) at the expense of the Midwest (17 percent while roughly 23 percent of the population).
So what can we conlude from these two disparate polls? It's tough to say. The USA Today/Gallup poll surveyed registered voters, not likely voters, so the findings may not reflect the voting population. ThePolitico poll did survey likely voters, and polls that do so tend to favor Republicans, which makesPolitico's findings curious. The underrepresentation of voters from the Midwest could partially explain the disparity, since the swing state survey by Gallup features plenty of big Midwestern states.