Monday, May 7, 2012

Six takeaways from a DEAD HEAT

Here are the six biggest results from the new Politico/George Washington University battleground poll, showing Mitt Romney up on Barack Obama, 48%-47%.

1. Romney holds 10% lead with independents, 48%-38%.

You know how voters kept saying during the primary that Romney was the most electable?

That's what this result is all about, and this result is what the primary was all about.

2. Voters: Obama stands up for the middle-class.

He leads, 58%-35%, on the question of who better stands up for the middle class.

Romney has made his pitch to this group a vital part of his campaign (he even provoked a firestorm for once suggesting that he wasn't concerned about the very poor and very rich), but is having trouble making this pitch work.

The question: Is Obama's big advantage here a function of his strength on the issue or just Romney's weakness?

3. Voters: Obama beats Romney on taxes.

Voters think the president would do a better job handling taxes than Romney, 51%-45%.

Usually, this is an area of strength for the Republican party, but Obama holds the lead right now.

I'm not sure if enough Americans know about the "Buffett Rule" and what it stands for, but if so, this could partly explain Obama's advantage here, since the Buffett Rule is quite popular.

4. Big opening for Romney on the debt and deficit.

71% of voters think that any new tax increases should go to paying down the debt, but only 23% think Obama would actually use that money to pay it down. 61% say he'd use it to increase spending!!

That suggests that there's a much more powerful impression of "Obama, the Big Spender" than "Obama, the Fiscal Hawk".

And that also suggests an opening for Romney on the debt and deficit. Mitt could wield an effective, complementary attack by focusing first on the economy and second on the deficit.

5. Obama is weak on the three biggest issues.

James Hohmann notes that the economy, government spending/budget deficit, and jobs are the three biggest issues for voters.

Obama has bad approval ratings on each of those issues (-8%, -22%, -2%, respectively).

6. Romney holds a 6% lead, overall, among voters who are "extremely likely to vote."

That's a significant advantage in voter enthusiasm. Jazzed voters tend to come from bases, so Obama will need to amp up his base to match that enthusiasm number.

ON THE BUBBLE: Some things that didn't quite make it onto my list. Romney leads with white women, 57%-38%, men prefer Romney by 7%; women prefer Obama by 7%, and Obama has a 10% advantage on "who shares your values?"