After a month of Republican primaries, the presidential race has come into sharper focus as Mitt Romney seems to have locked down the Republican nomination, and the economy seems to be improving, which is helping President Obama in most public opinion polls. There are nine months to go before the election and probably over a billion dollars in advertisements to be spent by deep-pocketed corporations and wealthy donors. The football season ended last night with a great Giants' win.
Are you ready for the campaign?
Obama Job Approval
The latest RealClearPolitics Index of Obama's approval numbers is here. His approval numbers have dropped slightly from 47.2% to 46.6% but his disapproval numbers also went down from 47.8% to 47.6%. The story, though, is that in every major poll in the index, the President's approval numbers since January 17 are all 46% and above. This is a marked contrast to two and three months ago when his numbers were around 44%.
For those of you who want to delve into the numbers, here's the breakdown for the USA Today/Gallup Poll, and a day-by-day of the Gallup tracking poll. Both links are from PollingReport.com
We could pretend that since Romney doesn't have the number of delegates to actually claim the GOP nomination, that the nomination is still up for grabs, but really, what's the point? The key polls from this point forward will be between Mitt and Obama. The latest polls are here, and they show Obama with a 2 point overall lead. There's only one poll in the index taken since Romney's quip about not caring about the very poor, and none since the improved jobs numbers were released this past Friday, so I expect Obama to have improved numbers as we move further into February. Romney will also benefit as more Republicans coalesce around his presumed candidacy and Donald Trump keeps his mouth shut.
There have been some changes to the Electoral College map, taking into account new state polling. Iowa and Nevada were subtracted from Obama's column, and New Hampshire was added, then taken away from the GOP's. The new result is that Obama is now leading in states with 217 electoral votes and the Republican is favored in states with 191. Of course, Florida and Ohio are the big prizes. The latest polling in the Buckeye State shows Obama with a 7 point lead. In a bit of surprising good news for Obama, he's tied with Romney in Missouri. Republicans must win this state if they are to have any chance in November. Then again, Obama will need to overcome some steep obstacles on his road to another term.
The Congressional Ballot also shows an improvement for the Democrats, as they lead it by 2.5%.
Whether this means they can take the House in November is a different story. That Republicans have added 10 members to their protection list is cause for Democratic optimism.
If the economy continues to improve, it will be more difficult for Mitt Romney to make the case that the country needs new leadership. Many independent voters who backed Obama in 2008 will never come back to him, and he'll need to lean on smaller margins in the swing states in order to win in November.
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