Significant for several reasons: (1) It's the first time Romney's hit the big 5-0 in this poll. (2) He does so with a D+4 sample, which is looking more and more like it may be too generous to Democrats. (3) When it was released last night, Rasmussen, Gallup, and WaPo/ABC all converged on the exact same electoral split, 50/47. (4) The economy and independents:
Romney does now boast a statistically — and substantively — important lead on the economy, which has long been the central issue of the race. When it comes to handling the nation’s struggling economy, 52 percent of likely voters say they trust Romney more, while 43 percent say they have more faith in the president… Romney’s improvements on the economy — and on empathizing with the plight of those struggling financially — has been fueled by gains among political independents.
Independents now side with Romney by campaign highs on both the economy (61 to 34 percent) and on understanding people’s problems (52 to 42 percent). These advantages with independents undergird a sizable, 19 percentage-point Romney lead over Obama on the horse race. Should that advantage stick, it would be the sharpest tilt among independents in a presidential election since Ronald Reagan’s 1984 landslide win. (Reagan won independent and other unaffiliated voters 63 to 36 percent, according to the exit poll). Obama won them by eight in 2008.
Nineteen points? If Romney wins indies by anywhere close to that margin, his overall margin will be heftier than three points. If. I couldn't quite bring myself to highlight the Reagan comparisons -- to his '84 re-elect blowout, no less -- because as fun as it is to fantasize about a massive Romney sweep, it ain't happening. I think it's safe to say that Romney's better-positioned to win this election than at any other point in the cycle, but it's still going to be a battle. Even if the new normal is a small Romney edge nationally, there's still that pesky detail of accumulating the 270 electoral votes to get him to pay dirt. Indiana and North Carolina are almost certainly going red. Florida has been looking up. Virginia? Well, two new polls in Virginia give Romney the lead in the Commonwealth. Rasmussen has it at 50/48 (with Romney up by four among decided voters), while Fox News puts the GOP ticket's advantage at 47/45 -- a nine point swing since the debates. Colorado looks relatively promising at the moment, as does New Hampshire. Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania fall into the "outside shots" category, with Wiscy being the most likely to flip. Which leaves Ohio. The race there is uber-tight in the Buckeye State, where the Republican nominee held three rallies yesterday alone. His evening bash in Defiance drew an especially huge and boisterous crowd. It's the cliche that's been beaten into the sod, but this contest is going to come down to X's and O's turnout politics. In 2008, Obama enthusiasm and his well-funded grassroots juggernaut overwhelmed and swamped the threadbare McCain campaign. Obama won early voting by a landslide, then won enough votes on election day to secure a 4.5 percentage point win there. In 2012, Republicans are pushing back hard. From a new campaign memo on the state of the Ohio race:
- Republicans are out-performing our share of voter registration in absentee requests and early votes by 8.61 points.
- Republicans have closed the gap on Democrats’ historic absentee and early vote advantage for 16 of the past 17 days.
- Compared to 2008, Obama is underperforming and Romney is over-performing in early and absentee voting.
- Obama is underperforming in several key Democrat counties, and Romney is over-performing in Hamilton County (Cincinnati).
- Republicans are out-performing their current voter registration in Ohio’s largest counties.
- On top of these serious issues for Obama’s early voting strategy, the Republican National Committee has a chart out today that notes Democrats are cannibalizing their Election Day voters during the early period, while Republicans are turning out low- to mid-propensity voters:
That last piece could be really important. If Democrats are just turning out the faithful early, that won't help much because they're "cannibalizing" their 11/6 turnout. Remember, McCain actually won Ohio on election day itself in '08 (early votes did him in), so if Republicans can close the early gap, Obama won't have enough Democrat partisans to make up the difference on November 6th. All told, will it be enough? Stay tuned, sports fans. Eleven days. I'll leave you with an image of the scene in Defiance, where Romney drew an estimated 12,000 supporters:
UPDATE - New Florida Poll: Romney 51, Obama 46
UPDATE II - Team Romney running ads in...Minnesota?
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
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