Obama Up In Iowa As Early Voting Begins

TPM

President Obama has expanded his lead in Iowa, a state where voters can begin casting their ballots starting tomorrow.

Obama leads Republican candidate Mitt Romney 51 percent to 44 percent in the Hawkeye State, according to a new survey from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling. The president only notched a 2-point lead in Iowa in the firm's poll from late August.

"Barack Obama is starting to pull away in Iowa," said Dean Debnam, President of PPP said in a release. "Voters there just really don't like Mitt Romney. It would be more competitive if the Republicans had a half decent candidate."

What Debnam is referring to is the sharp decline in Romney's personal rating he's seen in the state over the past month. In PPP's August poll, Romney split almost evenly on favorability amongst likely voters, 47 percent favorable to 48 percent unfavorable. In the latest numbers, he's well down on the metric, with 40 percent of Iowans seeing him favorably and 55 percent unfavorably. He's down 23 points with independents, and he's also losing favor with a portion of his base in the state. Only 79 percent of Republicans see him in a positive light, while 15 percent see him in a negative one.

Overall, Obama leads the PollTracker Average of Iowa by 6 points.

The downturn comes at a bad time for Romney, as state voters can start casting ballots on Thursday through early voting.

"Iowa Democrats hold a huge lead in absentee ballot requests, but Republicans, who are centering their efforts on a later push, promise to narrow the margin before Election Day," the Des Moines Register reported. "As of Monday in Iowa, registered Democrats had requested 109,709 absentee ballots while Republicans had requested 20,458, resulting in a more than 5-to-1 margin favoring Democrats, according to the Iowa secretary of state's office."

Thirty-five percent of Iowans voted early in 2008, the Register reported.

The PPP poll used 754 interviews with likely voters by landline (automated polls are prohibited from calling cell phones) conducted Sept. 24-26. It has a sampling error of 3.6 percent.

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