The final act of the presidential campaign opens today with two new polls showing the race between Obama and Romney tightening. New polls, released this morning, from ABC/WaPo and Politico both show Obama's lead nationally has been cut to two points, 49-47. Also, in both polls, Romney leads Obama among Independents by four points.
Obviously, if Romney is leading among independents by four, yet trailing overall by two points, both polls have probably sampled more Democrats. Indeed, the WaPo poll is D+5. This is a big improvement over past WaPo polls, which assumed that Democrats would have a bigger turnout than 2008's D+7 electorate. I think today's poll is still overly generous to Democrats, but it is more realistic than their previous polls. Politico's internals aren't yet available, but in the past their samples have been fairly reasonable.
The economy is clearly weighing Obama down. 81% of voters rate the economy as "not so good" or poor. In the WaPo poll, 60% of registered voters think the country is on the wrong track. A majority of registered voters disapprove of Obama's handling of the economy, 47-52.
Interestingly, voters are now split on Obama's handling of foreign affairs, with 49% approving and 48% disapproving.
More troubling for Obama, a majority of voters, 53%, are not confident the economy will improve over the next year or two if Obama is reelected. Given that the economy is the defining issue of the campaign, this is a worrisome sign for the President's reelection.
The media spent the month of September trying to convince the public that the race was already over. This morning we learn, however, that it has just begun.
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