NBC Marist Polls Find Obama Narrowly Ahead in Three Swing States: Very Tight Election Clearly Ahead (UPDATED)
NBC Marist polls find President Barack Obama holds a slight lead over presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney in the key swing states of Ohio, Virginia and Florida.
A earlier Quinnipiac University poll had found Romney pulling ahead in Florida and much poll trending so far shows Romney generally on the upswing and Obama in a defensive posture.
Meanwhile, a new entry in political scientist Larry Sabato’s must-read Crystal Ball, written by its senior columnist Alan Abramowitz , carefully analyzes various data to conclude it’ll be a very close election, with Obama the slight favorite but his fate will depend on the economy and public perceptions of his job in office.
First Read reports:
President Barack Obama holds a narrow advantage over presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney in three of the most pivotal presidential battleground states — Florida, Ohio and Virginia — according to new NBC-Marist polls.
In Florida and Virginia, Obama leads Romney by an identical four-point margin, 48 percent to 44 percent, among registered voters, including those who are undecided but leaning toward a particular candidate.
In Ohio, the president is ahead by six points, 48 percent to 42 percent.
In March NBC-Marist polls — conducted during the middle of the GOP primary season — Obama led Romney by 12 points in Ohio (50 percent to 38 percent), and by a whopping 17 points in Virginia (52 percent to 35 percent). In January, Obama was ahead of Romney by eight points (49 percent to 41 percent).
What’s benefiting Obama? Three factors:
Benefiting Obama in these three states is a sense that the economy has improved. Majorities in all three battlegrounds believe that the worst is behind us, rather than the worst is yet to come. That said, 40 percent or less think that the economy will get better in the next year.
Also helping the president is the notion that he inherited the current economic conditions, a belief held by a strong majority of respondents in each state: 56 percent in Florida, and 57 percent in both Ohio and Virginia.
And then there’s the gender gap. Romney holds a narrow lead with men in all three states. But Obama has a double-digit edge among women (10 points in Florida and Virginia, and 12 points in Ohio).
Obama’s approval rating among registered voters is 49 percent in Ohio and Virginia and 48 percent in Florida — essentially matching his head-to-head percentages against Romney.
But what’s hurting the president — and helping Romney — is a sense that the country is on wrong track.
Here’s bit of the analysis of Crystal Ball columnist Abramowitz, The Polarized Public? Why American Government iis So Dysfunctional:
According to a Gallup Poll analysis of recent polling data on the mood of the American public, President Obama appears to face a difficult road to winning a second term in November. The specific indicators of the national mood included in Gallup’s analysis were economic confidence, the percentage of Americans citing the economy as the country’s most important problem, satisfaction with the state of the nation and approval of the president’s job performance.
While all of these indicators have shown some improvement in the past year, according to Gallup they all remain at levels that suggest trouble for the incumbent. For example, only 24% of Americans said that they were satisfied with the direction of the country and 66% cited the economy as the most important problem facing the nation.
There is little evidence about how indicators like satisfaction with the direction of the country or perceptions of the most important problem facing the nation affect the outcomes of presidential elections. However, there is strong evidence that an incumbent president’s approval rating, even several months before Election Day, has a strong relationship to the eventual outcome of the election.
After examining the approval ratings in May of the election year for all incumbents who have run for a second term since 1964, the Gallup article noted that President Obama’s 47% approval rating is lower than that of all of the incumbents in this group who were reelected, including Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, although it is only slightly lower than Bush’s 49% approval rating in May 2004. However, Gallup also noted that Obama’s May approval rating is higher than that of all of the incumbents in this group who were defeated: Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush.
One problem with the Gallup analysis is that it leaves out two other postwar incumbents — Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower. Eisenhower’s 69% approval rating in May 1956 was the highest of any postwar incumbent except Lyndon Johnson in 1964, so it is hardly surprising that he was easily reelected. However, Harry Truman’s 39% approval rating in May 1948 was the lowest of any president seeking a second term, including the three who were defeated. Yet Truman, much to the surprise of many pollsters and political observers at the time, was reelected. So what conclusion should we draw from Obama’s 47% approval rating?
After analyzing some factors in full he concludes:
Whether we base our prediction on President Obama’s 47% approval rating in the Gallup Poll in early May or a more sophisticated forecasting model incorporating economic conditions and the “time for change” factor, it appears likely that we are headed for a very close election in November. Both models make Obama a slight favorite to win a second term. However, the final outcome will depend on the actual performance of the economy and the public’s evaluation of the president’s job performance in the months ahead. Those interested in assessing where the presidential race stands should focus on these two indicators rather than the day-to-day events of the campaign, which tend to dominate media coverage of the election.
Go to the link to read it in its entirety.
UPDATE: NBC Political Director Chuck Todd just noted on his required viewing show for political junkies, The Daily Rundown:
–Obama is at around 48% in many of these polls which is “not a bad place” for an incumbent to be.
–For this number to prove to be a good one every part of Obama’s turn out machine will have to work on election day.
–If he’s heading downwards heading towards 46% Obama is in trouble.
First Read expands on this:
*** Mr. 48%: What’s striking about our new NBC/WSJ poll — as well as our new round of NBC-Marist polls — is the consistency of the numbers for President Obama: He’s at or near 48% every way you slice it. In our new national NBC/WSJ poll, the president’s approval rating is at 48%, and his percentage against Mitt Romney in the ballot test is 47% (vs. Romney’s 43%). Then look at these numbers from our brand-new NBC-Marist state polls: In Florida, Obama leads Romney, 48%-44%; in Ohio, he’s up 48%-42%; and in Virginia, he’s ahead, 48%-44%. What does this mean? Is 48% a good thing or bad thing? On the one hand, he’s leading and in the high 40s, despite what’s been a rocky and volatile last few weeks (the April jobs numbers, the worries out of Europe, the rushed gay-marriage announcement, etc.). On the other hand, he remains below that important 50% threshold that’s usually considered safe haven for an incumbent president, and Romney is well within striking distance, especially given all of Europe’s economic uncertainty. Bottom line: 48% is really the knife’s edge; not quite close enough where you can just fall over the 50% finish line, but close enough that it doesn’t take much. It’s a number to follow in the months ahead.
*** A matter of party ID: By the way, how do you explain that Quinnipiac poll that shows Romney leading Obama in Florida (47%-41%) with our NBC-Marist poll that has Obama up in the Sunshine State (48%-44%)? It’s a matter of party ID in the survey; both pollsters use sound methods to conduct their surveys and neither weighs by party ID (it’s too volatile; most pollsters do NOT do that). There was a three-point GOP registration advantage in the Quinnipiac survey, and our NBC-Marist poll has an eight-point Dem registration edge. What did the exit polls show in 2008 for Florida: Dem +3. (So if you assume a 2008 turnout, that means that Obama and Romney are in a dead heat in Florida.) Here are the party ID breakdowns for our other two NBC/Marist polls:
OH: Dem + 9 (the 2008 exit poll had it Dem +8
VA: Dem + 2 (the ’08 exit poll had it Dem +6)
All of the raw data of the NBC/Marist polls are public and available for your scrutiny! We’re a full disclosure operation.