There has been a subtle shift in the polls for President Obama — whose approval rating has dropped to 46% in the most recent polling conducted by Gallup and Rasmussen Reports – with disapproval at 53% in the Rasmussen poll and 47% in the Gallup survey.
The President’s approval numbers are mirrored in the most recent head-to-head data for General Election: Obama vs. Romney. The President is currently trailing Governor Romney by four points according to polling conducted by Rasmussen Reports between May 10-May 12th, with Romney leading 48%-44% — while the latest Gallup numbers show the race effectively tied with President Obama holding a one-point lead over Governor Romney (46%-45%) .
What does this mean?
When the President’s approval rating was a couple of points higher, and his vote share was two or three points higher, it meant that despite the narrow margin, he held a significant 253-170 point lead in projected Electoral College votes.
But with this recent drop of a couple of points nationally in both job approval and vote share, it is almost certain that the President’s level of support will drop by a proportionate amount in swing states – if it has not dropped already.
Looking at the four polls conducted in Florida since mid-April , Governor Romney has lead in three of the last four surveys – Quinnipiac (44%-43%), Rasmussen Reports (46%-45%), and Purple Strategies (47%-44%) — while Obama has only lead in the Suffolk/7 News poll (46%-45%). And the RCP Average has the two candidates effectively tied – each garnering support around 45%.
Similarly, the President’s lead over Mitt Romney in Ohio has dropped from an average of 5.5 points in April and early May polling to just one point in the most recent Quinnipiac polling in Ohio.
Meanwhile, the announcement of the President’s evolved position and support of gay marriage, while certainly a fundraising boon for the President, is almost certainly not going to help him with swing voters in swing states– notwithstanding the national numbers. While there has been no recent polling in North Carolina, April polling showed the race a statistical tie, and a 61% to 39% vote against gay marriage in the state certainly cannot be seen as a harbinger of good for the Obama campaign.
And looking at the RCP Averages for key battleground states Virginia (13 Electoral College votes) and Missouri (10 Electoral College votes) — while the Virginia numbers remain strong for the President, Missouri appears to be solidly in the Romney camp.
In short, the bulk of the Real Clear Politics toss up states appear to be either split virtually evenly or leaning in Governor Romney’s direction. And if the drop in approval and vote support nationally is confirmed in state-by-state polls this week, we may well begin to see erosion in the President’s support in the 9 states comprising 92 electoral votes that Real Clear Politicsnow says are leaning in the President’s direction.
This explains why the President launched a new ad this morning, attacking Romney over Bain Capital, and why we can expect that the bulk of the rest of the campaign will be starkly negative.
The President does not, simply speaking, have an argument to make on the economy.