What's Happening in Missouri?

Esther Zuckerman
What's Happening in Missouri?

Post-"legitimate rape" polls are bouncing around in Missouri, while Virginia is tied. Here's our guide to today's polls and why they matter. 

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Findings: A Rasmussen poll shows Obama at 47 percent and Romney at 46 percent in Missouri. Romney has been ahead in the state all year, according to Rasmussen.  Pollster: Rasmussen Methodology: Automated poll of 500 likely voters in Missouri August 22 with a margin of error of +/-4.5 percentage points "with a 95% level of confidence."  Why it matters: Missouri is the state du jour what with Senate candidate Todd Akin's comments on rape creating a firestorm of controversy. In 2008, John McCain won the state by a small margin, but just yesterday a Public Policy Polling poll found Obama trailing by 10 points. Today's poll would seem to imply that Akin has hurt Romney, but it's important to note that Rasmussen and PPP have been flip-flopping when it comes to post-Akin scandal polls in both the senate and presidential races: Rasmussen, which leans conservative, showing the Democratic candidate up, and PPP, which skews liberal, showing the Republican. Both parties have been unhappy with the results of the senate polls, as Ariel Edwards-Levy and Mark Blumenthal of The Huffington Post note. Caveat: Rasmussen is right-leaning. 

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Findings: The Virginia race is tied: 47 percent to each candidate. Two weeks ago Obama led by two points.  Pollster: Rasmussen  Methodology: Automated poll of 500 likely voters in Virginia August 23 with a margin of error of +/-4.5 percentage points "with a 95% level of confidence."  Why it matters: As Rasmussen points out, it is after all the state wherein Romney chose to announce his running mate, Paul Ryan. In a Business Insider post earlier this week Brett LoGiurato explained that Virginia was one of the states in which Romney appears to have gone up post-Ryan.  Caveat: We mentioned it before: Rasmussen goes right.

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Findings: A CNN/ORC International poll gives Obama just a two point lead among likely voters.  Pollster: CNN/ORC International Methodology: Telephone interviews with 1,055 adult Americans — including 924 registered voters and 719 likely voters — August 22 through 23 with an overall sampling error of +/-3 percentage points and a likely voter sampling error of +/-3.5 percentage points.  Why it matters: That appears to be a tight race, but Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall says the "even bigger story is down in the details." This is because this is the first poll that CNN released using "likely voters." Obama has a bigger lead among registered. CNN Polling Director Keating Holland cautions that: "...it is a mistake to say that the race has tightened in the past few weeks, given the lack of movement in the results for registered voters." Marshall continues: "President Obama has actually gained a bit of ground (obviously within the margin of error) on last week’s eye-popping poll showing him with a 7 point lead over Mitt Romney. But it also shows that turnout and propensity to vote are going to be the whole game going into November."  Caveat: Marshall adds that using likely voters often helps Republicans.