This morning, NBC/Wall Street Journal released their latest poll, showing the presidential race tightening. In this latest poll, Obama leads Romney by 4 points, 48-44. This is down from NBC’s poll last month, which showed Obama with a 6-point edge, 49-43. This month’s poll sample was much improved over last month’s heavily Democrat skewed sample. But, at D+6, even this latest poll is overly optimistic about Democrat turnout in November.
While Obama can take some comfort in the fact that he is still leading Romney, other results from the poll show the challenges he faces in winning reelection. His overall approval rating is upside down, with 48% approving and 49% disapproving of his job as President. This is his highest disapproval rating for the year.
61% of registered voters believe the country is on “the wrong track.” This matches the highest finding on this question this year. By a 10-point margin, voters disapprove of Obama’s handling of the economy. 44% approve and 54% disapprove, matching the results found right before the 2010 mid-term elections.
No surprise, then, that Romney has a clear lead on economic issues. Romney leads Obama by 6 points on “having good ideas for how to improve the economy.” He leads by 12 points on “having executive and managerial skills.” Considering that Obama has been the nation’s Chief Executive for 3 1/2 years, that’s a stunning advantage for Romney.
More interesting, Romney leads Obama by 6 points on “changing business as usual in Washington.” As a candidate, Obama, using a message of “hope and change”, promised to rise above partisan politics and “fix” Washington. Among voters, he has clearly failed to fulfill this promise.
Keep in mind, as always, that the latest NBC poll is of “registered voters”, which has a 2-3 point bias towards Democrats. Adjusting for this and the modest partisan skew in the sample finds Romney in a fairly strong position, especially in terms of economic issues.
Looking at these results, it is easy to see why the media are obsessed with skinny-dipping Congressmen, Romney’s tax returns and Rep. Todd Akin’s statements on abortion. Obama is losing to Romney on the economy, by far the single biggest issue for voters. The Democrats and the media are desperate to focus voters’ attention on anything other than the economy. Every day the GOP goes along with these distractions provides a life-line to Obama’s reelection effort.
The media can distract from a scattering of weak economic data. But, when the data is so comprehensively weak, as it is now, voters feel its effects, even if no one on TV or in the newspaper is talking about it. If Romney and the GOP can focus their message on addressing voters’ economic anxieties, they will win the election. Voters are already moving in that direction.