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Posted by on Aug 2, 2012 in Politics | 3 comments

Pew Poll Shows Romney’s Challenge: Trails Obama Amid Likability Problem (UPDATED)

It’s easy to predict: there will be some kind of course correction in the campaign of presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney in light of recent polls — particularly this Pew Research Center poll which shows him trailing President Barack Obama by ten points amid some likability erosion.

Will Romney move to the center as many political operatives and political scientists say he must? Or will he move more to the right and try to generate a huge “mobilization election,” pushing all hot buttons possible and throwing out batches of red meat to GOPers to get every possible Republican out to vote against Obama? Or can he do the seemingly impossible: do a little of both.

Or will he roll the dice and try a “game changer” as his Veep pick — someone not being widely discussed (yet) by the conventional wisdom spreaders?

And will yet another lousy report on the economy be enough to convince voters to vote for Romney if they find him so unlikable — and if he faces continued pressure to release his tax returns and to explain his tax plan, which some say will give the rich a tax break and tax the middle class?

No matter what he does this poll is not good news for Camp Romney and indicates some recalibrating is in order:

By a 52% to 37% margin, more voters say they have an unfavorable than favorable view of Mitt Romney. The poll, conducted prior to Romney’s recent overseas trip, represents the sixth consecutive survey over the past nine months in which his image has been in negative territory.

Not that this is BEFORE his European trip — which was in several ways a “trip.”

While Romney’s personal favorability improved substantially between March and June – as Republican voters rallied behind him after the primary season ended– his image has again slipped over the past month.

Barack Obama’s image remains, by comparison, more positive – 50% offer a favorable assessment of the president, 45% an unfavorable one. Even so, Obama’s personal ratings are lower than most presidential candidates in recent elections.

And there is a historical warning flag for Romney as well:

A review of final pre-election surveys of voters since 1988 finds that all candidates enjoyed considerably higher personal ratings going into the final days of their campaigns than does Mitt Romney currently. In fact, only three, Michael Dukakis in 1988, George H.W. Bush in 1992 and Bob Dole in 1996, were not rated favorably by a majority of voters. Obama’s current ratings also are lower than the pre-election ratings of most other recent presidential candidates.

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted July 16-26, 2012, among 2,508 adults, including 1,956 registered voters, finds that, in keeping with his favorability advantage, Obama continues to hold a sizable lead over Romney in the election contest. Currently, 51% say they support Obama or lean toward him, while 41% support or lean toward Romney. This is largely unchanged from earlier in July and consistent with polling over the course of this year. Across eight Pew Research Center surveys since January, Obama has led Romney by between four and 12 percentage points.

Meanwhile, a close battle rages in the swing states:

Obama holds only a four-point edge (48% to 44%) across 12 of this year’s key battleground states. While the data does not allow a state-by-state analysis, the overall balance of support in these closely contested states has remained level in recent months, with Obama slightly ahead, but neither candidate holding a significant advantage.

The relative stability of this race can be seen within most voting blocs as well.

UPDATE: Nate Silver (who has a good track record) sees Obama making gains in the electoral college:

Barack Obama’s standing in the FiveThirtyEight forecast reached its strongest position to date on Tuesday as a result of favorable polls in a set of swing states. The forecast model now gives Mr. Obama a 70.8 percent chance of winning the Electoral College, up from 69.0 percent on Monday and from 65.0 percent last Tuesday.

Three of the polls were conducted by Quinnipiac University in conjunction with The New York Times and CBS News. The polls gave Mr. Obama leads of 6 points in each of Ohio and Florida, and an 11-point lead in Pennsylvania.

In each state, the polls are at the high end of the range of numbers produced by other polling firms. As we frequently advise, no one set of polls — no matter how reputable the pollster — should be read as gospel. Differences in the numbers from survey firm to survey firm often reflect sampling error or methodological differences rather than any fundamental change in the condition of the race.

Nevertheless, Ohio and Pennsylvania polls are part of a consensus of polls showing Mr. Obama ahead in these states by varying margins. Mr. Obama has led 11 of the 13 polls in Ohio since May 1, and he has led all 11 polls conducted in Pennsylvania during this period.


How do others see it? Here’s a cross section:

Oliver Willis is making an August prediction:

So here are my current predictions for how this election of ours is going to shake out. FYI, I have never predicted Florida right. I thought it would go Gore in 2000 (kind of right), Kerry in 2004, McCain in 2008.

These predictions are worth what you paid to get them and are subject to my whims.

Overall Election: 51% Obama, 49% Romney

Electoral College:
286 Obama 252 Romney

Here’s the state by state breakdown (though I still think Obama has a legit shot in FL, NH, and VA while I think Romney has a shot in NV and CO)

He thinks the Senate will flip GOP and the Dems won’t regain the House.
Political Carnival:

It’s only August, it’s only a snapshot, it’s only a poll, but enjoy it while you can.

Astute Bloggers:

We can’t remember a poll being that imbalanced.

IF LEFTISTS DIDN’T LIE, THEN THEY’D HAVE NOTHING TO SAY.

REALLY.

WHO DO THEY THINK THEY’RE FOOLING?

THEY’RE ONLY THEMSELVES.

The Politico:

The 10-point lead for Obama here is bigger than any of the other recent polling we’ve seen, which have tended to show a fairly static race.

UPDATE: We’ve been getting emails from readers pointing out that the sample of the poll is skewed toward Democrats. This is a fair point: the poll does sample significantly more Democrats than Republicans. As I noted above, these results are different than the mostly static numbers we’ve seen so far — the sampling numbers explain why.

Fair enough…but I’ve noted it once and I will note it again:
1) Partisans will question the methodology of polls that make their candidate look bad or behind.
2) Partisans will tout polls that make their candidate look good and will NEVER question the methodology or try to discredit polls that place their candidate ahead.
Weasel Zippers:

On what alternate universe will Democrats enjoy a D +19 turnout advantage over Republicans on election day? Well, that would be Planet Pew….In the best election season Democrats have enjoyed since Nixon resigned, 2008, the Democrat advantage was only D+8, but Pew is now attempting to hustle us into believing the turnout this year is going to be D +19.

And, putting this in context, it is important to note that the Pollster composite of polls shows this an EXTREMELY close race at this point:

Photo via shutterstock.com