Judging by much of the British press, you would think that President Obama is cruising comfortably to victory, with many newspapers reporting his “clear victory” in Tuesday’s debate and his sturdy lead in the battleground states of Ohio, Florida and Virginia. This is simply not the case – the race is far closer than that. National polls have been getting closer and closer since the first debate. A Gallup national poll released yesterday even put Romney ahead of Obama by 7 points, leading 52% – 45%. A week ago they were locked in a dead heat with each other at 48%. Obama’s ‘lock’ states – those that are certain to vote for him – are down to 10 whereas Romney has 13. A still more startling revelation yesterday is that Romney took his first lead in the electoral college poll. He is now projected to take 206 votes, with Obama taking 201. There are 131 votes potentially left to play for. Furthermore, the University of Colorado study, renowned for its accuracy, predicts a 77% likelihood of Romney taking the popular vote. This is significant because firstly only four presidents in the nation’s history have taken the White House without winning the popular vote, and secondly this study has never been wrong.
Other polling metrics are looking good for Romney as well. The economy is undoubtedly the central issue of this election, and a USA/Gallup poll has Romney’s favourability on handling the economy at 63%-23% among likely voters. One should take note of his recent performance in the battleground states, in which his recent focus seems to have started to pay off. In Ohio, considered to be the most crucial state, Romney has cut Obama’s lead in the polls to just 1 point at 49%-48%. In the very blue state of New Hampshire Obama’s lead is also just a single point. Another striking statistic of the ‘Romney Surge’ following his exemplar performance in the first (and second) debate is that in Wisconsin one poll has Obama’s lead is also down to 1. Two weeks ago he led by 11 points. That is an extraordinary swing in such a short time. See also North Carolina, where the Democrats held their national convention this year, Romney leads that hotly contested state by 6 points, 58%-46%. Romney is also leading in Florida now, very much a swing state, by 49.3% to 46.8%. Virginia, another of the big three swing-states is now polling with Romney ahead by 3 points at 50% -47%. That’s quite a lead in such a sought after state and Obama has done a lot of campaigning there.
This ‘Romney Surge’ comes after two very strong performances by Romney in the debates. In the first debate he was confident, articulate and in astonishing command of the facts. He hit the President repeatedly on the cold hard facts of the economy and it showed, particularly as Obama was left somewhat flabbergasted and produced little in terms of any effective comeback. The second debate had Obama come back as something of his usual self – lots of rhetoric and little of any substance. Evidence for such an assertion can be found in the poll conducted following the debate, Obama was highly rated on his performance and likeability, whereas Romney maintained a very strong lead regarding economic issues. That is what this election will be based on.
There are still other states and polls which show an Obama lead. The Ipos/Reuters national poll has Obama ahead by 3 points, and others have the two men locked in a dead heat. Obama also holds leads in Michigan, the state where Romney was born, California, the state with by far the most electoral college votes, and also New York. Many other national polls also purport Obama to be ahead.
Romney is therefore by no means in a strong lead, but neither is the President. This race is still very much in the balance and either man could win on November 7th. The 2012 Presidential Campaign is still very close, despite what the media on both sides of the Atlantic desperately try to tell you.