Romney ahead in polls for first time, gains ground with women voters
BY LYNN SWEET Twitter: @lynnsweet October 9, 2012 11:48PM
Updated: November 11, 2012 6:23AM
For the first time, Mitt Romney is ahead of Barack Obama in polls — chipping away at Obama’s hold on women voters and gaining in favorability ratings.
Romney also has pulled ahead of Obama in surveys in several battleground states key to winning the 270 electoral votes needed to claim the White House.
The new numbers out Monday and Tuesday take into account Romney besting Obama in last Wednesday’s debate.
With 27 days until the election, Romney’s lead at present is fragile — but significant in that the trend is going toward him, not Obama.
RealClearPolitics rolling daily average of national polls put Romney in the lead for the first time on this week, with the spread 0.7 in Romney’s favor.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), one of Obama’s top surrogates, said Tuesday there’s plenty that can happen between now and Nov. 6 to influence the outcome.
“We have four weeks, a vice presidential debate, two presidential debates, a lot of campaigning, and some events that you and I can’t even predict are going to occur in the next four weeks,” Durbin told CNN.
GALLUP: Gallup’s poll out Tuesday of likely voters — Gallup’s first snapshot of likely voters this election cycle — puts Romney at 49 percent to 47 percent for Obama.
Romney’s lead in the survey, taken Oct. 2-8 (the Denver debate was Oct. 3) is not statistically significant, but it does highlight the “competitive nature of the election,” according to Gallup.
Gallup at this stage is focusing more on likely voters — rather than the bigger universe of registered voters — because the point now is to focus on voters who will actually cast a ballot.
In the same poll, registered voters preferred Obama 49 percent to Romney at 46 percent.
Converting registered voters to actual voters is part of a massive effort of the Romney and Obama campaigns to turn out their votes. All the ads, debates, conventions, rallies — none of that counts if a campaign cannot get a supporter to register and then vote.
Gallup concluded that “Romney at this point appears to have a turnout advantage, meaning that Obama will need to develop a strong lead among all registered voters in order to be assured of winning the actual vote.”
If the election were today, Gallup bottom line: “the race would be too close to call.”
PEW RESEARCH: The Pew Research Center likely voter survey, released Monday, put Romney at 49 percent to Obama’s 45 percent. What a reversal.
Last month, Obama was ahead at 51 percent to 45 percent for Romney. Now more voters see themselves as Republicans — a switch.
Among registered voters, Romney and Obama were tied at 46 percent each.
The Pew poll was taken Oct. 4-7 and shows the battering Obama took from his poor debate performance. Romney did the better job in the debate, according to 66 percent of all voters, to 20 percent who said Obama was better.
One number to keep an eye on: An overwhelming 72 percent of Independents said Romney won Denver.
And just what is happening with women voters?
The female vote has always been seen as crucial to Obama, with the president through the years having strong support especially from unmarried women.
The PEW survey detected a potential landmine for Obama: Women broke evenly for Obama and Romney, 47 percent each. The drop for Obama was steep; in September, Obama led Romney among likely women voters 56 percent to 38 percent.
Romney is also gaining in favorability ratings, PEW found, with Obama’s advantage eroding. In September, Romney’s favorable was 42 percent to Obama’s 60 percent. In the October survey, Romney’s jumped to 51 percent favorable while Obama dropped to 51 percent.
SWING STATES: RealClearPolitics tracking averages show Romney gaining in the crucial battleground states.
Before the debate, almost every swing state survey gave the lead to Obama.
RCP tracking of the latest polls by non-campaign sources puts Romney ahead in Florida, 0.7; North Carolina, 3; Colorado, 0.5.
Obama takes the lead in Virginia, 0.3; Ohio, 0.7; Iowa, 3.2.
Romney campaign spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom was cautiously gleeful in an MSNBC interview. A week ago, when polls put Romney behind, stories were being written about how the Romney campaign was in dissaray.
When “we were being questioned about the state of the race, and our advice was to simply caution everybody to be patient; that there’s going to be a lot of ups and downs in this campaign, but it’s going to be tight right until the end. And we believe that to be the case, and I believe the president and his campaign share that view,” Fehrnstrom said.
Obama spokesman Jen Psaki, after being asked about the PEW poll said, “The one thing I will say is that we’ve always felt this race would be close.”
And it is.