At a certain point, it’s a little boring to say that Mitt Romney is suffering in the polls. But here we are, and Mitt Romney is still losing support nationwide. As always, the Gallup and Rasmussen tracking polls show a much tighter race than the larger surveys commissioned by media outlets. Bloomberg has President Barack Obama up six among likely voters, compared to the tie registered by Rasmussen. Gallup also has Obama ahead by six, but this is among registered voters; his margin is certain to narrow once Gallup screens for likely voters.
The big news, as you can see, is in the swing states. The latest poll from CBS News, The New York Times, and Quinnipiac University has Obama with a 9-point lead in Florida and a 10-point lead in Ohio. Public Policy Polling gives Obama a 7-point advantage in Iowa, and the Florida-Times Union has Obama with a more modest lead of 49 to Mitt Romney’s 46.
|Public Policy Polling||Iowa||LV||51||44||O+7|
|Franklin & Marshall||Pennsylvania||LV||52||43||O+9|
Some of this shift is a product of the Democratic National Convention, which has given President Obama a lasting bump in his approval rating and performance against Governor Romney. But the DNC ended three weeks ago—it can’t be responsible for the sudden shifts we’ve seen in Florida and other states. For now, I think the best answer is Romney and his remarks on the “47 percent.” The political press describes them as a “gaffe,” but that’s not quite right. This wasn’t a misstatement or revelation of accidental truth. It was a video of Romney appealing to donors at a private event, and whether or not this represents the “real Romney,” the statement and the context provide crucial new information to voters. Indeed, it confirms the wariness and distrust that has defined Romney’s relationship to the broader public for much of the year.
Current polls support the notion that this is new information, and not just a gaffe. According to the most recent survey from The Washington Post and ABC News, 54 percent of Americans are unhappy with Romney’s remarks, while 32 percent approve. The partisan breakdown is striking: 76 percent of Democrats and 57 percent of independents have an unfavorable view of Romney’s remarks. The former Massachusetts governor is saved by the overwhelming support of Republicans—64 percent approve of his comments.
Public Policy Polling tells a similar story. In Iowa, 86 percent of likely voters are familiar with Romney’s comments. Fifty-one percent find them “inappropriate,” and 42 percent say it makes them “less likely” to support the Republican nominee.
Overall, I’m not sure that Obama is leading by double digits in Ohio and nearly double digits in Florida. What we can say, however, is that these larger leads are a sign of growing support for Obama in critical swing states. The race might be tighter than it looks, but there’s no question that Obama has the advantage. Romney is stuck underwater, and there’s no sign that he will be able to surface.