Let's go in reverse order, from least to most alarming for Team Obama. First up is the new daily tracking poll from Rasmussen, which shows Mitt Romney surging to a three-point lead nationwide:
The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Monday shows Mitt Romney attracting 47% of the vote, while President Obama earns support from 44%. Five percent (5%) prefer some other candidate, and four percent (4%) are undecided. Fifty-five percent (55%) favor repeal of the president’s health care law. Most (57%) say they haven’t yet been affected by the law, but concerns about cost continue to be the top priority for health care reform. Just 14% believe that today’s children will be better off than their parents. That’s the lowest level of optimism ever measured.
The topline of that survey is ephemeral and relatively unimportant. As I mentioned earlier, head-to-head numbers aren't salient at this juncture of the campaign. The piece about generational optimism is much more serious. In a previous post, we discussed Romney's emerging edge on economic issues, noting that Obama's gaping personality advantage is keeping him in the game. Two countervailing data points -- the NYT/CBS poll, which showed the president's favorability rating flipping upside-down, and this new survey (via Politico):
GOP nominee Mitt Romney has a slight advantage over President Obama on key measures of values, leadership and honesty, a new poll finds. The poll, conducted by The Hill, finds that 47 percent of voters say that Romney most shares their values, compared with 44 percent for Obama. The survey also finds that 48 percent of voters pick Romney as the stronger leader, versus 44 percent for Obama. Romney also edged out Obama on a measure of trust — with 46 percent calling Romney more trustworthy versus 44 percent for Obama. Obama generally performs well among measures of likability across most polls, but voters say that a presidential candidate's policies and ability matter more. Ninety-three percent of likely voters say that competence and policies matter more than likability. The numbers come in the wake of an onslaught of negative ads by Team Obama portraying Romney as a heartless corporate raider responsible for layoffs, outsourcing and tax secrecy. The numbers are a sign that those attempts to define Romney have largely failed to change the narrative in the race.
These results are essentially the opposite of Gallup's recent findings on personal and leadership qualities. One major factor? Gallup surveyed adults; The Hill polled likely voters. As election day draws closer, the latter category becomes king. While we're on the subject of Gallup, let's take a gander at their new numbers, which measure Americans' political priorities:
The top three items are right in Mitt Romney's wheelhouse, according to the latest USA Today/Gallup poll. He leads on job creation, deficits, and the economy. Romney can also point to his Olympics resume to illustrate his ability to extricate an enterprise from the throes of corruption and scandal. Pay special attention to what registers dead last on the list: Democrats' obsession with tax "fairness." Raising taxes on successful businesses and families would do absolutely nothing to address the item at the very top of the roster, job creation. In fact, it would be counter-productive, to the tune of 700,000 destroyed jobs. Let's have this debate.
UPDATE - Ed Morrissey points out that The Hill's poll has a partisan sample of R+1, which may be a tad generous. Then again, it's far less absurd than the D+7/8/9...12 samples we've seen from other pollsters. The 2004 presidential election electorate was split evenly between Democrats and Republicans. Given the marked shift in voter enthusiasm this year, the '04 model looks much more realistic than the '08 one.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography