President Obama's campaign team was quick to jump this week when a new poll showed he'd slipped behind Republican Gov. Mitt Romney among North Carolina voters. The poll couldn't be right, they said. Why?
Because it showed Obama under-performing among African Americans, traditionally his most loyal constituency. Tom Jensen, director of Public Policy Polling, acknowledged as much in the press release.
"One caveat with Romney's lead on this poll is that it finds Obama winning the black vote by only a 76/20 margin," he wrote. "That seems like an unrealistically low share of African American voters for Obama."
The discrepancy even drew the attention of the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza, who addressed it in his blog, The Fix under the headline, "President Obama's Mythical Black Voter Problem." In a series of charts he showed that Obama remains popular with black voters, hovering around 90 percent approval.
Jensen said if his latest poll has a skewed result for black voters, it probably over-estimates Obama's support among white voters. It showed 37 percent of white voters approving the president's performance. Those results were in the poll's cross-tabs, where the margin of error is higher than the poll's overall 3.4 percentage points.
Jensen said the point is, the race is close. And has been over nearly two dozen polls.
"Nineteen of 20 times the race has been within three points one way or another," he said. "It all points to this being a toss-up state that could go either way."
Even though his firm leans to the left, he said it's not the first time Democrats have groused.
"Sometimes we are going to put out polls that dont make Democrats happy," he said. "Our job is not to make people feel good. It's to tell people what's going on.’