The Obama campaign announced on Wednesday that it expects the president to become the first incumbent to be outspent by his opponent — further underscoring my argument that the Romney campaign has taken a definitive upswing in the past month while Obama’s standings are faltering.
While the President still holds a narrow 2.2 point lead over Governor Romney in the Real Clear Politics average, recent polling suggests that the tide could be turning decidedly against the President in the 2012 election.
With a potential for $1 billion in spending from Republican-leaning outside groups supporting Mitt Romney looming on the horizon, President Obama’s vote share is coming down – as evidenced by the findings from the most recent Gallup and Rasmussen surveys in which the President trailed Romney by two points (45%-47%).
And Romney is not just taking the lead nationally; he is making progress on a state-by-state basis as well. The electoral map is moving in Romney’s favor, as recent polling shows that he has narrowed the gap or taken the lead in key swing states such as Missouri, Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia.
If Romney’s momentum continues and he captures these states, he would have more than 230 Electoral College votes. This would certainly bring him within reach of the 270 votes needed for victory, with a number of swing states hanging in the balance. States like Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Colorado will be in play for Romney as well, thus allowing for numerous combinations for Romney to get past the 270 votes needed.
And with the President’s approval rating several points below the 50% mark, voter satisfaction with the direction of the countrybarely above 30% and the economy remaining a dominant concern it is clear that while electoral estimates haven’t moved yet, the numbers are on the cusp of moving away from the President and towards his opponent.
To be sure, President Obama may be better positioned at this time in the 2012 presidential election campaign than Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush were when they lost their re-election bids. But U.S. satisfaction and economic ratings are low compared with years incumbents won, and his standing is decidedly worse than two incumbents who won a second term — Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.
While it is too soon to tell who will win the presidency, what is almost certain is that President Obama will be hard-pressed to garner either the turnout or the margin he enjoyed in 2008 when he defeated John McCain with 52.8 percent of the vote.
Douglas E. Schoen is a Democratic pollster, strategist, and commentator. Schoen, who served as a pollster for President Bill Clinton, is author of several books including the forthcoming “Hopelessly Divided: The New Crisis in American Politics and What It Means for 2012 and Beyond” (Rowman and Littlefield) http://www.amazon.com/Hopelessly-Divided-Crisis-American-Politics/dp/1442215232
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