Guy Benson

Hope and change, thanks to America's ladies.  New from the Associated Press:
 

What gender gap? Less than two weeks out from Election Day, Republican Mitt Romney has erased President Barack Obama's 16-point advantage among women, a new Associated Press-GfK poll shows. And the president, in turn, has largely eliminated Romney's edge among men. Those churning gender dynamics leave the presidential race still a virtual dead heat, with Romney favored by 47 percent of likely voters and Obama by 45 percent, a result within the poll's margin of sampling error, the survey shows. After a commanding first debate performance and a generally good month, Romney has gained ground with Americans on a number of important fronts, including their confidence in how he would handle the economy and their impressions of his ability to understand their problems. At the same time, expectations that Obama will be re-elected have slipped: Half of voters now expect the president to win a second term, down from 55 percent a month earlier.


This marks Romney's first lead in the AP survey of likely voters.  The poll's partisan sample isn't unreasonable at D+4, but that may overstate Democrats' advantage.  A weeks-long Gallup survey from this month showed party registration now tied -- so basically D+0.  The 2004 electorate was D+0, as was 2010's.  By contrast, 2008 saw a D+7 advantage.  I still expect Democrats to enjoy a slight edge this cycle, but I'd imagine it will be in the neighborhood of 1-3 points.  Back to this poll.  Ed Morrissey sees more trouble beneath the surface for Team Obama, especially considering the president's anemic firm re-elect numbers:
 

A month ago, this series had Obama up one among likely voters, 47/46, although tied without leaners at 44. Now Romney leads without leaners by three points, 45/42 — and a firm number of 42% for a incumbent is a disaster 12 days out from the election. When the “could change mind” voters are taken out, it’s even worse — 43/41 for Romney, with the incumbent barely above four out of ten voters...There is more bad news in the data for Obama. While he’s still seen as relatively favorable among likely voters (51/45, +6), Romney now has a +10 favorability rating at 52/42. Romney has a seven-point lead on trust on the economy (51/44) and eight points on the deficit (51/43). Romney now has a one-point edge on protecting the country at 47/46, a big change from last month’s six-point advantage for Obama at 51/45. That has to be the Benghazi effect.


The poll doesn't provide crosstabs across demos, so no indication of specific stats on independents -- but we can follow the circumstantial evidence and conclude that indies are breaking for the challenger.  It's a D+4 sample that measures self-identified Republicans at just 30 percent.  That's lower than 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2010.  Therefore, the only way Romney punches through into a lead overall is by carrying independent voters (unless a bunch of Democrats are abandoning Obama, which we haven't seen in other polling).  NRO's Jim Geraghty highlights a finding in the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll, which has Romney leading by a point:
 

President Obama scored a modest win in the third presidential debate, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News tracking poll, but it’s Republican Mitt Romney who moved the needle among likely voters — including independents — with his debate performances. Looking at handling the economy as a broad issue, Romney’s lead among independents has swelled to 56 to 39 percent in the new poll, an advantage that helps him to a sizable, 12-point lead over Obama when it comes to their voting preferences. Obama won independent and other voters by eight percentage points in 2008.  


I'm sorry, but if Romney is up twelve with independents, the race is not stuck at just 49/48.  Today's Rasmussen tracker has the race at 50/47 for Romney, virtually unchanged since the third and final presidential debate.  Gallup also shows a 50/47 race today.  As I suggested on Monday night, Obama may have scored a narrow "win" on points at the debate, but the net electoral effect of the square-off would be virtually non-existent.  I'll leave you with a few swing state notes:  (1) You've already heard the news out of Michigan.  (2) Are Democratic Super PACs starting to buy airtime in Wisconsin...and Pennsylvania?  (3) The Badger State's biggest newspaper, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, has elected not to issue endorsements in the presidential or Senate races.  Interesting.


UPDATE - It appears that the J-S editors were intimidated by angry liberals after backing Scott Walker in his recall battle, so they've decided it's not worth the fury this time:
 

Bruce Murphy, who has covered Milwaukee media and politics for decades, writes: “Sources tell me the newspaper felt the heat of endorsing Republican Gov. Scott Walker in the bitterly contested recall election and decided it wasn’t worth it. The word is the newspaper will do no more endorsements unless the editors really feel like a candidate has crossed the line and they need to weigh in.”  


UPDATE II - Oh my: the Romney campaign/RNC raised nearly $112 million in the first 17 days of October.  Via the campaign:
 

- Over $111.84 Million Raised Between October 1 And October 17

- 91.72% Of All Donations Received Between October 1 And October 17 Were $250 Or Less

- $38,172,228 Million Raised By Donations Under $250 Between October 1 And October 17

- 794,958 Donations Received Under $250 Between October 1 And October 17

- Approximately $169.04 Million Cash On Hand

- Contributions Received From All 50 States And Washington, D.C.  


Team Obama/DNC won't disclose their cash on hand figures.


Guy Benson

Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Senior Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography