A new wave of state-by-state polls is showing just how sizable the field of swing states will be this election, with several the Democratic-leaning, white, working-class states looking very much in play even as President Obama is holding fast in some traditional battlegrounds.
For Mitt Romney, the most encouraging findings come out of Michigan, where several polls showed the race between Obama and Romney in a statistical dead heat. The findings were echoed today by NBC/Marist, which found Obama with a tenuous 48 percent job approval rating and leading Romney 44 percent to 39 percent. Obama won the state by 16 points in 2008.
Meanwhile in Pennsylvania, Wednesday's Quinnipiac poll showed Obama with a 45 percent job approval rating, and leading Romney 45 to 39. That's downright worrisome in a state with 20 electoral votes, which the president can't afford to lose.
But in the more-traditional battlegrounds, where both campaigns are spending their time and money, the race is still neck-and-neck, a sign that the Obama campaign's negative barrage is taking a toll on Romney. Quinnipiac found Obama extending his lead over Romney in Ohio to nine points, 47 to 38 percent. In North Carolina, the new NBC/Marist poll shows him leading Romney, 44 to 41. Even in Florida, where some polls showed the race moving away from Obama, Quinnipiac found the president with a 45 percent to 41 percent lead, with 47 percent approval. The results suggest that Obama was able to hold his own, in an otherwise tough month, thanks to the campaign’s spending.
Still, the overall state-by-state numbers are good news for the Romney campaign. Obama's job approval is under 50 percent in all of them, and is in perilous territory in several must-win states. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the electoral math is looking better for Romney than Obama, given that several important states - Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan - now look like toss-ups.
The numbers also lay out the path to victory for Obama: Make Romney an unacceptable challenger in the eyes of voters. There's evidence that the millions in attack ads are blunting Romney's standing, with his favorability ratings taking a hit over the last month. However, the biggest test for Romney will come during the GOP convention and the fall debates, when most voters will be tuning in for the first time and the poll numbers will likely be stable. If he can convince voters he's a credible challenger, the undecided voters, disillusioned with the president, are more likely to move into his corner.
—Josh Kraushaar, Hotline Executive Editor
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRIMARY REPORT
Political Uncertainty Abounds As Ruling Looms
[Associated Press, 6/28/12] It's clearer how the SCOTUS ruling could affect the U.S. healthcare system than how it will affect the presidential race, as both candidates are assuredly prepared but keeping those preparations under wraps in advance of the decision.
Supreme Court Health Care Ruling: Win-Lose Scenarios
[Politico, 6/28/12] Politico's Josh Gerstein takes a look at what effect the Supreme Court ruling will have on a number of Washington's key players, including Romney, Obama, and Congressional leadership.
Obama and Roberts Legacies Are Intertwined
[Wall Street Journal, 6/28/12] Then-Sen. Obama was critical of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and even voted against confirming him in 2005, highlighting the wide breach in ideology between the two that has come to color the current health care debate.
Future of an Aging Court Raises Stakes of Presidential Vote
[New York Times, 6/27/12] Justices Ginsburg, Scalia, Kennedy and Breyer are all over 70, and with an average SCOTUS retirement age of 78.7, a retirement is looking likely during the next presidential term, making the outcome of the fall election pivotal for the future makeup of the Court.
Whose Party Is It Anyway?
[National Journal, 6/28/12] President Obama and Mitt Romney are struggling to relate to their own parties, although in very separate ways. During his first term, Obama controlled the party agenda to such a degree that, at times, Democrats on Capitol Hill wondered if their own careers were an afterthought. Romney, on the other hand, appears tentative within his own party.
Electoral Map Math Favors Romney
[National Journal, 6/28/12] A new wave of state-by-state polls is showing just how sizable the field of swing states will be this election, with several of the Democratic-leaning white, working-class states looking very much in play even as President Obama is holding his ground in some of the traditional battlegrounds.
Polls Show Virtual Ties in Swing States
[National Journal, 6/28/12] President Obama and Mitt Romney are neck-and-neck in three new battleground-state polls released early on Thursday, suggesting a broad electoral map at this stage of the general election.
Swing State Storm Clouds for Obama and Romney Alike
[National Journal, 6/27/12] While the latest round of Quinnipiac University swing state polls released on Wednesday show Obama leading Romney, they also place the president below 50 percent in all three states, both in his share of the vote and his job approval rating.
Mitt Romney Shifts Focus from Post Article on Bain to Health-Care Law
[Washington Post, 6/27/12] As a Washington Post article that highlighted outsourcing of jobs by Bain Capital gained traction on the campaign trail, Romney pivoted from first trying to discredit it to then trying to ignore it, attempting to focus back on health care in advance of the SCOTUS ruling -- perhaps indicating that the attacks on outsourcing are working.
Obama Bundler Tied to ‘Outsourcing Pioneers*'
[ABC News, 6/27/12] Jonathan Lavine, a managing director at Bain in Boston, has bundled between $100,000 and $200,000 for the Obama Victory Fund, according to estimates released by the Obama campaign. Here’s the rub: he has also been involved in three companies that a Washington Post report identified as ones that expanded overseas operations under Romney’s and Lavine’s watch.
Obama Prepares Three Speeches Ahead of Health-Care Ruling
[Wall Street Journal, 6/27/12] Be Prepared! The president has one speech that addresses a complete overturn of the law, while another is crafted as if the court strikes down the law’s individual mandate but upholds other provisions. The third speech, for if the court upholds the entire law, is more celebratory.
Romney: Obama's Push for Health Care Law ‘A Moral Failure’
[National Journal, 6/27/12] In advance of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act due out on Thursday, Mitt Romney said on Wednesday it was a “moral failure” for President Obama to focus on health care legislation during a time of economic crisis.
Romney's Virginia Fans Don't Give A Damn About The Bain Attacks
[GQ, 6/27/12] Virginia Republicans gave Romney a warm reception on Wednesday, and even as the issue of Bain Capital outsourcing jobs heats up on the campaign trail, Virginians seemed to give Romney a pass as they defended his business record.
Multiple Stumbles on the Democrats' Road to Charlotte, N.C. Convention
[The Hill, 6/27/12] Two years ago the decision to hold the convention in North Carolina was seen as smart politics, but troubles have been mounting: The host committee has reportedly struggled to raise money, several Democrats are skipping the convention altogether, and union tensions are giving organizers headaches.
In 2006 Video, Romney Calls Mandate ‘Essential’
[New York Times, 6/27/12] During a March 2006 news conference when Romney was governor of Massachusetts, he praised the passage of an individual mandate in the legislature as an "essential" part of the reforms he advocated.