Presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney is picking up steam. And fast.
That’s the gist of two new polls that show Romney gaining support among women and getting higher likeability numbers, and also now virtual tying President Barack Obama in three key battleground states, Iowa Colorado and Nevada. The reason for the shift in the battleground states? It appears to be closely to an indicator some analysts have said to watch closely — an indicator that they contend often gives a clue to what’ll happen on election day: a growing belief that the country is on the wrong track.
President Barack Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney are deadlocked in three key presidential battleground states, according to a new round of NBC-Marist polls.
In Iowa, the two rivals are tied at 44 percent among registered voters, including those who are undecided but leaning toward a candidate. Ten percent of voters in the Hawkeye State are completely undecided.
In Colorado, Obama gets support from 46 percent of registered voters, while Romney gets 45 percent.
And in Nevada, the president is at 48 percent and Romney is at 46 percent.
These three states are all battlegrounds that Obama carried in 2008, but George W. Bush won in 2004.
“These are very, very competitive states,” says Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, which conducted these polls. “Everything is close.”
Results from NBC-Marist polling in three other battleground states released last week – Florida, Ohio and Virginia – showed Obama with narrow leads in each state.
In Colorado, Iowa and Nevada, a more optimistic attitude about the U.S. economy is working in Obama’s favor. Majorities in each of the three states believe the worst is behind us, rather than yet to come.
In addition, majorities in these states say that the president mostly inherited the current economic conditions.
But what seems to be hurting Obama – and helping Romney – is a sense that the nation is on the wrong track, with 54 percent in Iowa, 55 percent in Nevada and 56 percent in Colorado sharing that belief.
Apart from components of the American economy in itself, gloomy developments in the European economy (particularlydevelopments in Greece and Spain) suggest that if the European crisis further deteriorates it could have perceptible impacts in the United States — and increase the belief that the U.S. is on the wrong track.
Meanwhile, an ABC News/Washington Post poll has shown Romney gaining ground among women and in his likability numbers:
A sharp advance among women has boosted Mitt Romney to his highest favorability rating of the presidential campaign – albeit still an unusually weak one – while Barack Obama’s personal popularity has slipped in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll
Obama still beats Romney in favorable ratings overall, by an 11-point margin, 52 vs. 41 percent. But that’s down from 21 points last month, giving Romney the better trajectory. And both get only even divisions among registered voters, marking the closeness of the race between them.
This survey comes after a period in which Romney’s chief GOP competitors withdrew from the Republican race and lined up behind his candidacy. Romney clinched his party’s nomination in Texas last night.
All Romney’s gains have come among women – up by 13 percentage points in personal popularity from last month, while Obama’s lost 7 points among women. (Views among men have been more stable.) Obama’s rating among women, 51 percent favorable, still beats Romney’s 40 percent – but again that margin is far smaller than what it was six weeks ago.
An ABC/Post poll last week found improvement for Romney in vote preferences among married women. This survey finds that his gains in personal favorability, instead, come predominantly among unmarried women, who saw him uncommonly negatively earlier this spring.
This poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, finds that Obama’s ratings among all adults are slightly positive, 52-45 percent favorable-unfavorable, vs. 56-40 percent last month. Romney is numerically underwater (albeit not by a significant margin), 41-45 percent – but up from his 35-47 percent score last month. Forty-one percent favorable is a new high for him, by a scant 2 points from January. It’s his first foray above the 40 percent line.
Romney’s 35 percent favorability in April was the weakest on record for a presumptive presidential nominee in ABC/Post polls in primary seasons since 1984. While he’s since gained 6 points overall, he’s still less popular than most previous eventual nominees at this stage of a presidential campaign. Only one has been this low in comparable data – but that one, Bill Clinton in 1992, did go on to win.
In historical terms? Partisans on each side can now cherry pick the example that they can throw out in their commentaries and blog posts to show Obama is doomed/Obama is not doomed. But here are all the figures for those who are interested in the context, rather than partisan spin:
Obama’s popularity, meanwhile is the same as George H.W. Bush’s in June 1992, the year Bush lost re-election. On the other hand Obama’s rating is 2 points from Ronald Reagan’s in early 1984 and George W. Bush’s in 2004, both re-election winners.
But one cautionary note: University of Virginia political maven Larry Sabato says that historically June polling of Presidential candidates is sort of like a coinflip: it is not necessarily a reliable indicator of how the race will end.
Here’s the Pollster chart with an average of national polls:
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.