Voters in three swing states are down on the Republican plans for Medicare, but the race remains tight in a nationwide poll today. Also, Obama's maintaining something of a lead in Ohio and an even bigger one in Pennsylvania. Here's our guide to today's polls and why they matter.
Findings: A majority of voters in three swing states — hovering around 60 percent in each — want Medicare to remain as it is rather than change it "to a system in which the government would provide seniors with a fixed amount of money toward purchasing private health insurance or Medicare insurance" as Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are proposing, according to a new poll. The Romney-Ryan option attracts less than a third of voters.
Pollster: Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News
Methodology: Telephone interviews with 1,241 Florida voters, 1,253 Ohio voters, and 1,190 Wisconsin August 15 through 21 voters with a margin of error of +/-2.8 percent in all.
Why it matters: As The New York Times' Michael Cooper and Dalia Sussman note, Medicare got its status as a big campaign topic following the addition of Ryan to the ticket, the man "who is perhaps best known for proposing a budget plan, supported by Mr. Romney, to overhaul Medicare to rein in its costs." These results show that regardless of whether Ryan is helping the ticket, voters in swing states are not happy with his plans for Medicare. The Hill's Daniel Strauss puts it simply: "poll suggests Romney could be hurt on Medicare because of his selection of Ryan as his running mate."
Caveat: It's unclear what this exactly does. The poll shows Obama's lead has narrowed in Florida and Wisconsin, and remained the same in Ohio. Also, as The Huffington Post's Mark Blumenthal and Ariel Edwards-Levy note, the question about how voters would like to see Medicare "did not mention that Romney and Ryan support this change." Finally, nearly 50 percent of voters in each state said they would support "minor reductions" to Medicare spending to help reduce the federal deficit.
Findings: Obama leads 48 percent to 45 percent among registered voters in a new national poll.
Pollster: USC Annenberg/Los Angeles Times
Methodology: Telephone interviews with 1,009 registered voters — 954 of whom were considered likely voters — conducted August 13 through 19 with a margin of error of +/-3.1 percentage points for registered voters and +/-3.2 for likely.
Why it matters: These numbers reflect something similar to what we noted in our Poll Watch yesterday. The Los Angeles Times' David Lauter writes that the results "speak to the remarkable stability of the presidential race, in which Obama has held a small lead in most polls since April."
Caveat: Obama's lead is even tighter among those deemed likely to vote: 48 percent to 46 percent.
Findings: A poll out of Ohio finds Obama leading 49 percent to Romney's 46 percent — within the poll's margin of error.
Pollster: Ohio Poll/University of Cincinnati
Methodology: Telephone interviews of 847 likely voters in Ohio between August 16 and 21 with a margin of error of +/-3.4 percent.
Why it matters: This poll comes as the Quinnipiac poll gives Obama a comfier six point lead in the state among likely voters, and the Los Angeles Times' Joseph Tanfani points out that voters there "have been hit with an onslaught of campaign ads and candidate rallies for months." That said, as Aaron Blake notes in The Washington Post, a bunch of swing state polls have been moving toward Romney, and a poll last week in the state "was the first since May to show Romney leading."
Caveat: According to the Cincinnati poll: 17 percent of voters say they may change their mind before the election or are undecided.
Findings: Obama leads by nine points in Pennsylvania: 49 percent to Romney's 40 percent.
Pollster: The Morning Call/Muhlenberg College
Methodology: Survey of 422 likely voters between August 20 and 22 with a margin of error of +/-5 percent.
Why it matters: Pennsylvania is still considered a swing state, but The Morning Call has it as a "lean-blue" and that seems about right with this big a lead.
Caveat: That said, The Post's Blake writes: "Franklin and Marshall College, which showed Romney down by 12 points in early June, last week showed him closing to within five points in this blue-leaning state."