As election day draws closer, polls of likely voters become far more predictive than those of registered voters and adults. Fox News -- whose polling hasn't been especially kind to Mitt Romney in recent months -- has released its first national survey of the former group, and Mitt Romney has edged in front of President Obama:
Less than a week before the Republican convention begins, the race for the White House is a virtual tie. According to a Fox News poll of likely voters, the Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan ticket receives the backing of 45 percent, while the Barack Obama-Joe Biden ticket garners 44 percent. The poll, released Thursday, is the first Fox has conducted among likely voters this year, which means an apples-to-apples comparison can’t be made to previous polls. Likely voters are eligible/registered voters who will most likely cast a ballot in this year’s presidential election.
It's a virtual dead heat, which isn't too shabby from a Republican perspective, for reasons explained by Charles Krauthammer. Each candidate has core constituencies, but Mitt Romney is leading among independents:
Both tickets have already gained the support of many of their key voting blocs. Romney has the edge among white Evangelical Christians (70-18 percent), white voters (53-36 percent), married voters (51-38 percent), men (48-40 percent) and seniors (50-41 percent). Obama has the advantage among black voters (86-6 percent), women (48-42 percent), lower income households (53-35 percent), young voters (48-39 percent) and unmarried voters (55-34 percent). Independents back Romney by 42-32 percent (one in four is undecided).
That ten-point lead with independents represents a solid position for Romney, especially in light of the undecided number. If 25 percent of independents are still making up their minds, Romney is likely to add to his advantage on election day -- particularly if the economy continues to limp along. Keep in mind that The One's job approval sits at a precarious 36/54 among independents, who also view him less favorably on a personal level than Mitt Romney. Are the undecideds in that group likely to break late for Obama? The survey's partisan sample is D+4, which is more reasonable than we've become accustomed to, but perhaps a bit generous to the incumbent, given the enthusiasm gap and the 2010 red wave. A few additional morsels from the internals:
(1) On the question of who is the stronger Vice Presidential candidate, Paul Ryan beats Joe Biden head-to-head by ten points. Ryan's overall favorability is +10, while Biden's is +2.
(2) On the economy, Romney leads narrowly -- though that advantage grows with independents. Obama's economic approval rating is underwater by 12 points, and 23 points with indies.
(3) On Medicare, the two candidates split almost evenly, which is a very good sign for the Romney-Ryan ticket. Battling to a draw on this question is ultimately a win. The GOP duo is actually favored on this issue by seniors and independents.
(4) Asked if they'd rather have the federal government "lend them a hand" or "leave them alone," the hands-off option won in a landslide, and a majority responded that it's fair to say President Obama aims to make more people dependent on government.
(5) Romney's supporters were 10 points more likely to classify this election as "extremely important."
(6) By a 61/15 spread, voters said most members of the media want Barack Obama to win the election; only seven percent described the news media as "neutral." Way to go, guys.
Meanwhile, as Katie notes below, Democrats seem intent on turning their convention into Abortion Fest 2012 -- a risky proposition for a number of reasons. They continue to distort Mitt Romney's position on the issue in a desperate attempt to "Akinize" him. Our pal Debbie Wasserman Schultz -- fresh off her victory in the least-effective-surrogate-on-television sweepstakes -- appeared on CNN last night to discuss the matter. Anderson Cooper wasn't overly impressed with her talking points. Listen for her key quote, which she actually says twice: "It doesn't matter."
Challenge: "But the facts say X, not Y." Response: "It doesn't matter." Astounding.