Obama Polling Far Behind 2008 in Swing States

Obama Polling Far Behind 2008 in Swing States

In 2008, Obama won all of this year’s battleground states, often by substantial margins.  In 2008 he held commanding leads in the RealClearPolitics average of polls in each of the swing states. His average standing in the polls was above 50% in 6 of ten of the battlefield states. Today, though, his numbers don’t hit the critical 50% threshold in any swing state polling average. In most of the swing states, in fact, he has seen a dramatic collapse in support. 

This afternoon, I took a stroll through RCP’s average of swing state polling. Helpfully, they let you compare the state of the race today with 2008. Four years ago, Obama’s smallest lead was in North Carolina, where he led by 1.3 points. His biggest margin was in Michigan, where he led by 17 points with an impressive 54.8% support. 

First, let’s look at where Obama was polling in the swing states on this date in 2008. The number cited is his lead in RCP’s average of swing state polling. I note where Obama was polling about 50%

  • Virginia +7.5 (54.5%)
  • Florida +2.3
  • Colorado +5.4 (50.5%)
  • Ohio +6.6 (50%)
  • Iowa +11.8 (52.8%)
  • Nevada +3.3
  • Wisconsin +11.4 (52%)
  • Pennsylvania +10.8 
  • Michigan +17 (54.8%)
  • North Carolina +1.3

This was clearly a campaign with a lot of momentum. Now, let’s see where things stand today. (R signifies Romney leads in the RCP average.)

  • Virginia R+1.4
  • Florida R+1.7 
  • Colorado R+0.2
  • Ohio +2.1
  • Iowa +2
  • Nevada +2.7
  • Wisconsin +2.7
  • Pennsylvania +4.8
  • Michigan +4
  • North Carolina R+5.6

Even in the states where Obama maintains a lead today, he was seen a substantial drop from his support in 2008. In VA, CO, OH, PA, NC and FL there has been a 4-8 point swing away from Obama. In IA and WI the swing is around 10 points. In MI, Obama has lost 13 points from his 2008 numbers. 

Keep in mind, the shift away from Obama is probably greatly understated. Many of these state polls that make up today’s RCP average of polls are using samples assuming Democrats match or exceed their turnout numbers in 2008. Look at the two sets of numbers again. Do today’s numbers look like those posted by a campaign riding a wave of momentum? In 2008, the Democrats had their biggest turnout advantage in decades. The RCP averages in 2008 are consistent with that. Today’s numbers? Not so much. 

If Obama wins reelection, he’ll have to limp across the finish line. 

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