The New York Times' Nate Silver spots a trend: Mitt Romney's polling fortunes have improved significantly in swing states in the last few weeks. He's right. Even in last night's generally poor NBC/WSJ poll (Obama's overall lead was 4 points in a D+6 sample), the battleground sub-sample had closed to within three points, down from eight in July. And among the survey's undecided, "up for grabs" population, the president's job approval rating sat at a measly 34 percent. Last evening we highlighted new Romney-friendly numbers out of Wisconsin and Michigan -- states Obama won in 2008 by 14 and 16 points, respectively. Today we're seeing more polling data from Florida and Nevada:
A new Gravis Marketing survey shows Mitt Romney leading Barack Obama, 49%-45%, in Florida. Other stats of note: Romney wins both Catholics and Protestants, while Obama wins religious affiliations outside of those two groups, non-affiliated voters, and Jews. This is the latest in a series of strong swing state polls for Romney, and the third consecutive poll showing him slightly ahead in Florida.
The Sunshine State remains a crucial and heavy lift for Romney, but it appears early analysis that Republicans could "kiss Florida goodbye" due to the Ryan pick was misplaced and premature. As for Nevada, we're getting a clearer picture of why President Obama has visited the Silver State six times this year alone, despite having carried it comfortably last cycle. He and Romney are neck-and-neck in the desert:
President Barack Obama edges out GOP opponent Mitt Romney 47 percent to 45 percent in a new Nevada poll that shows Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan, evenly splitting voters in the battleground state, too. Independents narrowly favored the Ryan selection, with 32 percent saying they're more likely to vote for Romney with him on the GOP ticket and 25 percent saying they're more likely to pick Obama. Overall, Romney is leading Obama among independent voters statewide, 44 percent to 39 percent...As a result, Obama continues to run on shaky ground in Nevada, which is economically the nation's hardest-hit state with unemployment at 12 percent and record home foreclosures and bankruptcies. Obama easily won Nevada by 12 percentage points four years ago but has been struggling to regain traction here.
On the Medicare question, 70 percent of those surveyed said they're "familiar with Paul Ryan's thinking on Medicare," which was not described in the poll question. Asked whether they backed Ryan's Medicare plan, 48 percent said they supported his ideas, 47 percent said they were opposed and the rest weren't sure. Republicans backed Ryan's Medicare plan overwhelmingly with 78 percent support, Democrats strongly opposed it at 81 percent, and independents slightly favored it, 49 percent to 45 percent, the poll showed.
Within the margin of error, with independents breaking GOP, and a wash on the Medicare fight? Given the horrific economic fundamentals in Nevada, I suspect Romney will gladly take that scenario in mid-to-late August. A cautionary reminder, though: Nevada was a brutal mess in 2010, too, and Harry Reid managed to keep his job, albeit under markedly different circumstances. Finally, the Associated Press has released a new nationwide poll today. It finds a virtual tie on the top line, with Paul Ryan's favorables surging -- in contrast to yesterday's NBC/WSJ results:
Overall, 47 percent of registered voters said they planned to back Obama and Vice President Joe Biden in November, while 46 percent favored Romney and Ryan. That’s not much changed from a June AP-GfK survey, when the split was 47 percent for the president to 44 percent for Romney. After just over a week on the campaign trail, Ryan has a 38 percent favorable rating among adults, while 34 percent see him unfavorably. Among registered voters, his numbers are slightly better — 40 percent favorable to 34 percent unfavorable. Ryan remains unknown to about a quarter of voters.
Ed Morrissey breaks down the sample, which favors Democrats:
The sample in this poll is also interesting. The AP/GfK poll adds independent leaners into the mix, which produced a D/R/I of 47/41/16, or D+6. However, they also offer a breakout that puts leaners back with independents in order to match it against other polls. The revised partisan split is 31/23/30, for a D+8 and a serious undersample of Republicans. (They also have 17% that don’t fit in any of the categories, oddly.) In June, when Obama had a 47/44 lead, the D/R/I was 29/22/33, very nearly the same.
I'll leave you with this note: Despite the profoundly unhelpful Akin debacle consuming media attention for three days straight, today's Rasmussen daily tracking poll shows Romney expanding his lead over Obama by a point, ticking up to 46-44.
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