First, the national trackers: Gallup shows Romney leading Obama nationally by two points (with the president's approval rating underwater at 45/48), and Rasmussen's latest numbers put Romney up by a single point. Now, the eyebrow-raising swing state stats. Wisconsin:
PPP's first Wisconsin poll since Mitt Romney announced Paul Ryan as his running mate finds him taking a small lead over Barack Obama in the state, 48-47. That represents a 7 point shift from PPP's last look at the state in early July, which found Obama ahead 50-44. The biggest change Ryan's selection seems to have brought about is the unification of the GOP. Romney's gone from a 78 point lead with Republicans on our last poll (87-9) to now an 88 point lead with them (93-5). There's also been a tightening with independents. Obama still has a 4 point lead with them at 47-43, but that's down from a 14 point advantage at 53-39 six weeks ago. Democrats are unchanged from the previous poll.
Ryan isn't exactly a universally popular figure in his home state. 49% of voters have a favorable opinion of him to 45% with a negative one. But that does give him the best numbers of anybody on either ticket in the state. Obama has a 46% approval rating with 50% of voters disapproving of him, Romney has a 45/48 favorability rating, and Joe Biden stands at 41/48. A big reason Wisconsin remains so competitive for the GOP is that the electorate looks like it will be considerably more Republican leaning than it was in 2008, reflecting the continued high energy level of the party's voters after its victory in June's recall election. We find an electorate that's 34% Republican and 32% Democratic.
The Democrat-aligned firm's numbers mirror Rasmussen's recent Badger State findings, which also show Romney taking a small lead in Ryan's home state. Given the Republican resurgence in Wisconsin over the last two years, PPP's analysis about anticipating a redder electorate in 2012 than 2008 seems to be on target. But how much redder? Obama carried the state by 14 points last cycle. Due east (and north), in Michigan, more promising news for the Romney/Ryan ticket:
As Powerline notes, this polling firm slants heavily Democratic with its clientele. The survey suggests the addition of Paul Ryan to the ticket has been a major plus for the Romney campaign, and shows plurality support for Ryan's budget -- despite a decidedly negative description of it in the question. The poll also shows incumbent Sen. Debbie Stabenow narrowly trailing her GOP challenger, which is a major surprise. A word of caution: The internals don't reveal the overall partisan breakdown and indicate quite a lot of sample weighting, so I'd consider this one with a large nugget of salt. Nevertheless, it's hardly the first survey suggesting that Michigan could be competitive in the fall. For what it's worth, NBC/WSJ is set to release a new poll later this evening. NBC reporters have been excitedly tweeting out teasers for hours, all of which paint doom and gloom for Republicans. (Unlike virtually every other poll, this one will show Paul Ryan as a drag on the ticket). This is the pollster that generously spotted Obama a whopping D+11 sample last time around, so gird your loins.
UPDATE - The NBC/WSJ poll shows Obama's lead shrinking to four points (48-44), despite a D+7 partisan sample (D+6 with leaners). Obama won this poll's respondents by 9 points over John McCain in 2008, two points higher than the national outcome. It also shows Obama leading among high-intensity voters. Those two data points are...rather suspicious. Romney leads by six points on the economy. Only 43 percent of those polled say Obama deserves a second term, yet he's polling five points higher than that on the top line.
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