The latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll has President Obama up by six points over Mitt Romney. But the latest Gallup poll has Romney up by one. Gallup also finds that Democrats are less likely now than in the summers of 2004 and 2008 to say they are “more enthusiastic about voting than usual.” Conversely, Republicans are more enthusiastic.
Each side cheers when its guy seems to be gaining ground, but as a whole, recent polls suggest that the race has been fairly stable in over the last few weeks. In the general election, each candidate can count on winning at least 46 percent of the vote. The outcome will hinge on the remaining 8 percent. One big influence on the undecideds will be the state of the economy, which has been too weak for the president to count on reelection, but not awful enough to guarantee victory for the GOP. In that sense, the key number this week won’t be a survey result, but Friday’s report on second-quarter gross domestic product. It probably won’t be good.
But as Sean Trende reminds us, Romney can’t expect that bad economic numbers will automatically carry him to the Oval Office. He has to convince wavering voters that he’s an acceptable alternative to the incumbent, and he has not closed that sale.