President Barack Obama leads GOP challenger Mitt Romney, according to polls in 10 key swing states, with margins ranging from as little as 4 percentage points to as many as 12 percentage points.
This, according to Real Clear Politics, despite the president’s unpopularity and poor record of high unemployment, lost jobs and a sputtering economy.
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Unemployment has been over 8 percent in every month since Obama took office and so far, it remains the weakest economic recovery in modern U.S. history with $5 trillion added to the national debt during his term so far and the embarrassing downgrading of the U.S. credit rating.
Even his signature domestic accomplishment, Obamacare, is so unpopular that Obama and Vice President Joe Biden only alluded to it indirectly in their acceptance speeches at the Democratic National Convention last month in Charlotte, N.C.
And in foreign affairs, Obama has been resoundly attacked for fecklessness, weakness, “leading from behind” – even retreat. This stems from the burning of the U.S. consulate in Libya and the deaths of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
Still, the president leads Romney by 3.5 points in the Real Clear Politics average of polls – while Romney trails in 9 of 10 key swing states.
In Colorado, the latest Public Policy Polling poll has the president ahead by 6 points (51 to 45 percent), while the Civitas poll has him ahead by 4 points (49 to 45 percent) in North Carolina.
The latest ARG polls have Obama ahead of the former Massachusetts governor in three states: Nevada and Iowa by 7 points each (51 to 44 percent), and Florida by 5 points (50 to 45 percent).
Obama’s lead is the largest in Michigan, according to the latest Rasmussen Reports poll – 12 points (54 to 42 percent) – and the same in Wisconsin (53 to 41 percent), according to the WeAskAmerica poll.
The president also is 8 points ahead of his GOP challenger in Pennsylvania (48 to 40 percent), according to the latest surveying by Mercyhurst University in Erie, and by the same margin in Minnesota, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune-Mason-Dixon poll.
And, the latest Mason-Dixon poll has Obama ahead of Romney in Montana by 9 points (51 to 42 percent).
These poll results have brought cautious optimism from Democrats, while Republicans continue to lament over the Romney candidacy.
“It’s remarkable at how close these polls come to accurately projecting what happens on Election Day,” Costas Panagopoulos, a political science professor at Fordham University, recently told Newsmax in an exclusive interview.
“What many people don’t realize is that there’s always some error associated with polls because they are samples of the population,” he added. “Once you take that error into account, the range of true preferences generally tends to be right on target.”
And this is what many conservatives claim is wrong with surveys – saying that Romney is actually ahead in this presidential race, the Washington Examiner reports.
Many contend that sampling is skewed toward Democrats – and say that more independents who have grown disenchanted with Obama will vote for Romney. Some even say that those voters who indicate now that they will back Obama will actually change their minds on Election Day.
“A scientific poll does not have a partisan dimension to it,” Panagopoulos told Newsmax.
But it doesn’t help when the Romney campaign is scrambling to do damage control after gaffes by the former Massachusetts governor.
Romney’s “47 percent” comments at a private Florida fund-raiser for donors, disclosed last week, caused Obama’s “favorable” rating to jump by 7 percent in one day in a Gallup poll released at the end of the week, to 51 to 43 percent.
The comments also have led a wide range of Republicans – including Joe Scarborough, David Frum, Peggy Noonan, David Brooks and Bill Kristol – to attack Romney.
Brooks on “Meet the Press” this past Sunday called Romney the “least popular” candidate ever and also a “faker” who has adopted positions he doesn’t much care about.
The former governor complained on Sunday that he was lagging primarily because of the Obama campaign’s constant lies about his record and views; because the president is opting out of federal campaign financing and he now has to spend much more time on fund-raisers instead of campaigning and because fact-checkers are not fully doing their jobs, the The New York Times reports.
“I understand that politics is politics but in the past, when you’ve had an ad which has been roundly pointed out to be wrong, you take it out and you correct it and you put something back on,” Romney said, according to the Times.
While there have been bits of positive economic news, the Democratic convention actually nudged some “soft” Obama voters into supporting the president. And, as such, they have adjusted their views on the economy accordingly.
“People are increasingly lining up their policy preferences to match their views of the candidates,” Democratic pollster Mark Mellman told the Times.
One other intriguing factor may be helping Obama, the Times reports: When unemployment is high, Democratic candidates often do better, even when they are the incumbents.
That said, Romney faces a tough challenge and time is of the essence. Pollsters say the number of voters who say they strongly favor their chosen candidate is up; the number who say they might change their minds is down, the Times reports.
“That means there’s less play in the middle; less room for preferences to move,” Mellman said.
So far, the Romney campaign is still focused largely on taking a negative tack toward Obama, as a surefire way to increase GOP passion and, most important, boost Republican turnout.
“Gov. Romney needs to change the dynamic, and change the dynamic boldly, if he’s going to have a chance to win this election,” Democratic pollster Doug Schoen told Newsmax in an interview today.
To do that, Romney needs to find a game-changer. It could be a shift from the negative message back to a positive one, focusing on the economy. It could be a top-notch performance in the three debates next month.
Most likely, it needs to be all of these elements, Schoen said.
“We have those three debates. We have 43 days left in the campaign and, bottom line, that’s more than enough time.
“But this is not about shoe leather,” Schoen added. “It’s about message. The governor needs to have a national message of change that rebuts, compellingly, what Obama has been arguing. If he can do that, he still has a chance to win.”