Nervous News for the Obama Camp in the Presidential Election
John Cassidy in The New Yorker did an analysis of the poll results involving the 2012 presidential election. Mitt Romney’s performance in the first debate shook up the election in a fundamental way, making the polls that much more interesting for the American people. President Obama, who once appeared to be a shoe-in for re-election, is now being forced to fight for his political life against a charging Romney who has been able to prove that his post-debate surge wasn’t just a fluke.
According to Cassidy, President Obama has a large lead with women and Romney is holding onto the men. Also, the definition of “likely voter” makes a big difference in the outcomes of the national polls as well.
And a lot depends on how you define “likely voter.” Among the wider pool of “registered voters,” Obama is still leading by five points: 49 to 44 per cent. Like most of its competitors, the polling firm that carries out the survey judges registered Republicans to be more likely to vote than registered Democrats, largely because they are older and more affluent. As a general rule, that’s surely true, but is it enough to transform a five-point race into a tie? There’s no way of knowing.
The large and powerful battleground state of Ohio is another source of concern for President Obama. Romney has been gaining ground in this crucial territory, and President Obama’s “electoral college firewall” might be in jeopardy. Cassidy notes that he might want to reconsider his assessment that certain battleground states are leaning toward President Obama.
Ohio: In my previous post, I noted that Obama’s electoral-college firewall—Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Nevada—was just about holding up, and on The New Yorker’s electoral map I marked all of them as leaning to Obama. Two new polls in Ohio call that claim into question, but I don’t think they are sufficient to invalidate it. One of these surveys, from Gravis Marketing, had the two candidates even at 47-47. In the other poll, from Public Policy Polling, Obama was leading, but by just one point: 49 to 48.
Having Ohio tied means that the race is getting close for the president. Also, the poll results, to Cassidy, imply that President Obama didn’t get much of a bounce from his improved debate performance the other night. While more Ohio citizens feel that the president won the debate, that doesn’t mean that they are more likely to vote for him. Cassidy says that he once considered Ohio to be leaning toward Obama, but now he is wondering if that’s really the case. Even though he doesn’t change his assessment directly, he does admit that Romney is making a serious surge.
The new polls raise the question of whether I should change my call on Ohio from leaning Obama to toss-up. After seriously considering it, I decided to leave things as they are pending more data. But I don’t want to downplay the fact that Romney is making a serious run. Consider some more findings in the latest poll from P.P.P., which is widely thought to lean slightly to the Democrats. The G.O.P. candidate holds a seven-point lead among independents, 49-42; his favorability rating has risen to the point where it is basically the same as Obama’s—49 per cent versus 48 per cent; and the Republican vote is continuing to solidify. Among G.O.P. partisans, ninety per cent say they will be going out to vote for Romney, compared to eighty-five per cent this time last week.
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