A new poll out today by the Washington Post and ABC News shows presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney and President Obama locked in a dead heat.
A pair of tepid jobs reports, landmark Supreme Court decisions on health-care and immigration laws, and an unprecedented barrage of negative ads have shaped the opening months of the fall presidential campaign. The impact on the horse race: virtually none.
According to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney remain in a deadlocked contest, tied at 47 percent among registered voters and basically where they stood in late May.
The new numbers reflect a stubborn constancy: Only twice in 13 surveys over more than a year has either candidate held a lead exceeding the poll’s margin of sampling error. Now, the campaign appears destined to remain extremely close in the final four months before Election Day.
The fundamentals seem firmly planted: About two-thirds of Americans consider the country seriously off course, a majority have not approved of Obama’s overall job performance in more than a year, and the president remains in negative territory on dealing with the economy, health care and immigration. Also unmoved since fall are Americans’ attitudes toward spending, with as many saying they would prefer an increase in federal spending to try to spur economic growth as wanting to prioritize deficit reduction.
In other words, according to the pollsters, four months before the general election the race is still a coin flip. But is it? As Ed Morrissey points out, the D/R/I breakdown in this particular sample is 33/24/36, thus giving Democrats a D+9 split. But in 2008, he explained, the D/R/I sample (according to CNN exit polls) was 39/32/29. This, in effect, suggests that even with a Democratic turnout greater than it was in 2008, which seems exceedingly unlikely for obvious reasons, President Obama is at best tied with Mitt Romney. This is not encouraging news for Team Obama.
And yet some of the particulars in the survey are disconcerting. For example, as we briefly mentioned yesterday, the Obama machine’s negative and factually inaccurate attack ads seem to be resonating with the American public. The Washington Post reports:
Another important finding from the Post poll: A larger percentage thinks Romney did more as a corporate invester to cut jobs (40 percent) than to create them (36 percent). That suggests a plurality is rejecting [sic] Romney’s argument that his Bain years show he was a “job creator.”
However, 24 percent have no opinion, and 50 percent say Romney’s business background is “not a major factor” in evaluating him, suggesting again that Dems have lots more work to do in defining Romney’s Bain years and their relevance to the current campaign.
While Mitt Romney and his campaign staffers certainly need to do a better job responding to charges of “vulture capitalism” and “corporate raiding,” voters nevertheless trust the presumptive Republican nominee over President Obama to handle the economy by a 49-45 margin. (These numbers are telling, of course, because the economy has been the top political issue in America since late 2007). Put simply, it seems to me widespread dissatisfaction with the president’s economic policies could completely derail his chances of winning reelection. And keeping in mind the D+9 split discussed earlier, Mitt Romney’s electoral prospects seem to be much more promising than we originally expected.