Last week, the Politico Battleground poll showed Obama with a 1-point lead over Romney. It was consistent with their polling throughout the campaign season, with Obama clinging to a small, but steady, lead over Romney. Today's Politico poll, though, taken last week, finds a 3-point shift towards Romney. The challenger now leads Obama by 2-points among likely voters, 49-47. In the swing states, Romney leads 50-48, hitting the critical 50% threshold.
Let's note at the outset that this polling sample is D+4. I think that's a slight understatement of GOP turnout, but its certainly a defensible sample. Politico, somewhat surprisingly, hasn't bought into the fantasy that turnout in November will match turnout in 2008, when Democrats had an historic advantage. Still, it shouldn't comfort Obama supporters that, even with a large Democrat turnout advantage, Romney still edges Obama.
Obama's chief problem is his record. 53% of voters disapprove of his handling of the economy, with 45% strongly disapproving. 57% of voters disapprove of his handling of federal spending and the deficit, with close to a majority, 47%, strongly disapproving. Considering that these are top issues for most voters, it's a tough hill for Obama to climb.
Obama's second major problem is the GOP edge in enthusiasm. The poll found that 76% of voters say they are "extremely likely" to vote in the election. However, only 72% of Obama supporters say they are extremely likely to vote against 80% of Romney supporters who report the same. In other words, Obama supporters are less likely to vote than the overall sample while Romney supporters are more likely. This goes a long way to explain why media polls using 2008 as a turnout model are delusional.
Obama's third major problem is that Romney holds a solid lead on the issues most likely to decide how voters cast their ballot. Romney leads by 6 points on handling the economy, 51-45. He leads by 4 on jobs, 50-46. On federal spending and the deficit, voters prefer Romney by 15 points, 55-40. He also has a narrow edge on being a "strong leader" and getting "things done."
It is noteworthy, also, that Romney leads "middle class" voters by 9 points, 53-44 and voters from "middle class families by 15 points, 56-41.
Only about half of this poll was conducted after the second presidential debate. While the media rushed to declare Obama the winner of that exchange, it hasn't shown itself in any polling. While Obama's performance might have slowed the movement towards Romney, it doesn't appear to have stopped it or even reversed it.
With 2 weeks to go, Romney has the momentum advantage in the presidential race. Obama is running out of time to save his reelection.
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