Friday, September 21, 2012

Obama Leads Romney by 50-43 in National Journal's Heartland Institute Poll

More polling data to compare to my earlier entries, "Obama Leads Romney 52-45 In New Reason-Rupe Poll," and "Mitt Romney's Path to Victory is Narrowing."

Here's Ronald Brownstein at National Journal, "Heartland Monitor Poll: Obama Leads 50 Percent to 43 Percent":
President Obama has opened a solid lead over Mitt Romney by largely reassembling the “coalition of the ascendant” that powered the Democrat to his landmark 2008 victory, the latest Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll has found.

The survey found Obama leading Romney by 50 percent to 43 percent among likely voters, with key groups in the president’s coalition such as minorities, young people, and upscale white women providing him support comparable to their levels in 2008.

The survey, conducted by Ed Reilly and Jeremy Ruch of FTI Communications, a communications and strategic consulting firm, surveyed 1,055 likely voters by landline and cell phone from Sept. 15-19. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. Full results from the survey, including a detailed look at Americans’ attitudes about opportunity and upward mobility, will be released in the Sept. 22 National Journal.

The Heartland Monitor’s results are in line with most other national surveys in recent days showing Obama establishing a measurable lead, including this week’s new Pew Research Center and NBC/Wall Street Journal polls. The saving grace for Republicans is that even as these surveys show Obama opening a consistent advantage, the president has not been able to push his support much past the critical 50 percent level, even after several difficult weeks for Romney that began with a poorly reviewed GOP convention. That suggests the president faces continued skepticism from many voters that could allow Romney to draw a second wind if he can stabilize his tempest-tossed campaign.

The poll found Obama benefiting from a small increase in optimism about the country’s direction. Among likely voters, 37 percent said the country was moving in the right direction. Even looking at all adults, the "right track" number now stands at 35 percent, its best showing since the April 2010 Heartland Monitor.

Obama’s approval rating in the new survey also ticked up to 50 percent, with 46 percent disapproving. That’s a slight improvement from May, when the survey of all adults found 47 percent approving and 48 percent disapproving. Among all adults, Obama’s rating improved to 49 percent approving and 45 percent disapproving, also one of his best showings since January 2010.

Those gains are critical, because as always with an incumbent president, attitudes toward Obama’s performance powerfully shape the race. Among likely voters who approve of Obama’s job performance, he leads Romney in the ballot test by 93 percent to 3 percent; those who disapprove prefer Romney by 87 percent to 5 percent.
There's still more at the link, but for the most part that sounds reasonable to me.

Especially important is Obama's 50 percent approval rating at this Heartland poll. Presidents don't win reelection when their job approval falls below 50 percent. Jay Cost highlights Obama's recent negative approval ratings as a bright spot for the GOP, "Morning Jay: Historically, Obama Isn't in Strong Shape."

And my friend Stogie discounted the earlier Wall Street Journal poll (at that link above), and he points to trends in black turnout that might depress Obama's reelection prospects, "Conservative Black Blogger: 'Why Romney Is Going To Romp Over Obama In November'."

I think that's going to be something to watch, more broadly even, keeping in mind enthusiasm levels among both parties' grassroots supporters. There's also the chance for other surprises, like new foreign policy debacles, and of course the debates could help change the dynamics. Cost at the Weekly Standard dismisses Obama's poll numbers as a lingering convention bounce that will evaporate in the weeks ahead. And that may be true. But I've yet to see a poll with Mitt Romney in the lead and that's discouraging after a while. So, I'll be keeping an eye on the battleground states and looking to Team Romney for that game changer that we've all been waiting for.

Keep checking back for your cold hard non-sugarcoated analysis.

Romney still has a chance, but the stars are going to have line up just perfectly for him. We'll see.