NYT/CBS Poll: Romney Takes the Lead, Brutal Internals for Obama

Posted: Jul 19, 2012 8:00 AM

The top line is only 47 percent for Romney compared to 46 percent for Obama, but that's among registered -- not likely -- voters with a D/R/I sample breakdown of 33/26/41 (D+6.5).  Here are the basics, then it's all downhill from there for The One:

Forty-seven percent of registered voters nationwide who lean towards a candidate back Romney, while 46 percent support the president. Four percent are undecided. The one percentage point difference is within the survey's three point margin of error. Romney leads by eight points among men; the president leads by five points among women. The president's supporters are more likely to strongly back their candidate. Fifty-two percent strongly favor Mr. Obama, while just 29 percent of Romney voters strongly back the presumptive Republican nominee.  Republicans are more enthusiastic than Democrats when it comes to voting in this election, though just one in three registered voters overall are more enthusiastic than they were in the past. Roughly half of Republicans say they are more enthusiastic compared to past elections - up from 36 percent in March - while just 27 percent of Democrats say they same.

On issues, Romney has an eight-point edge on the big one -- the economy -- plus sizable advantages on deficits, taxes and immigration:

Fifty-four percent of registered voters cite the economy and jobs as "extremely" important in their presidential vote, more than any other issue. Here Romney has the edge: 49 percent of registered voters say he would do a better job handling the economy and jobs, while 41 percent cite Mr. Obama.  Romney is also seen as better on the federal budget deficit (50 percent to 36 percent), taxes (47 percent to 42 percent) and illegal immigration (46 percent to 38 percent). Mr. Obama as seen as better on foreign policy (47 percent to 40 percent) and social issues (48 percent to 37 percent). Views of the candidates on health care and terrorism were split. Thirty-eight percent of registered voters say Mr. Obama cares a lot about their needs and problems, compared to 25 percent who say the same of Romney.

Here's where things get really ugly for the president:

Only 28 percent believe Mr. Obama has fulfilled his promise to deliver positive change for the country. Fifty-eight percent say he has not delivered change, while seven percent say he has delivered change that has been bad for the country. Mr. Obama's overall approval rating stands at 44 percent, with 46 percent disapproving. His approval rating on the economy is just 39 percent - 55 percent disapprove - and his approval rating on foreign policy is 41 percent. His approval rating on the economy has dropped five points since April.

Both candidates have net unfavorable ratings. Forty-eight percent of registered voters view the president unfavorably, while 36 percent view him favorably. Romney is viewed unfavorably by 36 percent and favorably by 32 percent. Nearly one in three say they do not yet have an opinion about the presumptive Republican nominee. Seven in ten Americans say the economy is in bad shape. While 24 percent say it is getting better - down from 33 percent in April - 30 percent say it is getting worse. That marks the highest percentage who say the economy is getting worse since December.

Note well that Obama is underwater on the favorability question, generally his strong suit, by double digits.  More Americans are developing a poor overall perception of Obama the man, independent from their misgivings about his leadership. The economic numbers have to be extremely worrying for the White House, as voters' confidence is again slipping away.  As I mentioned up top, this poll under-sampled Republicans and handed Democrats a 6.5 point partisan advantage.  This would mean the 2012 electorate would be roughly the same as 2008's, which seems quite unlikely (the party breakdown was even in 2010).  More importantly, the NYT/CBS survey oversampled independents, who will determine this election.  Obama numbers among the indies are abysmal.  Via the crosstabs:

(1) Obama's job approval among independents is a paltry 35/49.

(2) His economic job approval with indies is 31/61.

(3) Mitt Romney leads Barack Obama head-to-head by 12 points within this group, 47/35 (he's +9 with leaners).

(4) Obama's favorability with independents is -- wait for it -- 28/52 (!), with Romney actually above water at 32/31.

Barack Obama is in deep, deep trouble with indepenents at the moment.  If these numbers hold, and the electorate is a hybrid of the 2008 and 2010 turnout models (which I think is likely), he will lose.  Another thing to consider: We've been hotly debating Obama's barrage of negative and often false attacks against Mitt Romney for weeks.  Obama has enjoyed a "massive" spending advantage in swing states over the last month -- a dynamic that will change very soon.  What has he done with this period?  He's losing overall, losing on the economy, getting hammered with independents, and has seen his own favorability ratings plummet.  This poll is much worse for Obama than meets the eye.

UPDATE - Three more data points from two other fresh polls: 

(1) A Fox News poll released Wednesday shows that 55 percent of voters believe Obama’s policies are making the government “bigger and more expensive.”  That’s more than five times as many as say “smaller and less expensive” (10 percent).  Most Republicans (88 percent), a majority of independents (55 percent) and a quarter of Democrats (25 percent) say Obama is increasing the size of government. The poll asks voters which phrase best describes their view of the government’s role in the economy given current economic problems.  About one in four says “government is the solution to the problem” (23 percent). Sixty-four percent say “government is the problem.” Fully 75 percent of voters think Americans rely too much on the government.

(2) "US economic confidence falls to lowest since January."

(3) NPR shows the race knotted at 46 in battleground states, with a D+7 (with Republicans at just 29 percent) sample.