Today Rasmussen has Obama up 47–46. Gallup has Obama up 48–46.
Yet according to some Sunday talk show pundits, the Romney campaign is in disarray and Obama is almost assured of victory in November. And it seems this assessment is shared even by some “Republican” talking heads, many of whom apparently spent the weekend dousing the flames on their heads. Navy SEALs they are not.
To be fair, conservatives exhibiting less hysteria do remain puzzled by the polls. After all, the Obama presidency has been a trainwreck of Carter-esque magnitude. Almost every historical predictor shows that Romney should have a sizeable lead: Unemployment is high, consumer confidence is low, two-thirds of voters think the country is on the wrong track, more believe we’re worse off now than we were four years ago, household income has plummeted, gas prices are hovering near record highs, and most voters perceive America to be in decline.
Furthermore, data show that Obama has lost support among several key segments of the electorate. He won 43 percent of the white vote in 2008, but appears to be drawing 4–6 points less today. He’s also lost support among middle class voters (see Katrina’s post below), Catholics, and Jews. Moreover, a decline in voter enthusiasm among blacks, Hispanics, and young voters suggests turnout for these groups will fall below 2008 levels (Jay Cost has noted that if black turnout alone been at typical levels in 2008, Obama would have lost Ohio and Florida).
Notwithstanding the erosion in support, Obama remains tied with or slightly ahead of Romney in most polls. Yesterday’s Ohio Newspaper Association poll is typical. It shows Obama with a five-point lead in Ohio, despite a sizeable Romney advantage among independents. That pol , however, employed a voter sample that gave Democrats a six-point advantage over Republicans. In this regard, it is similar to most other major polls, which (as Da Tech Guy points out) average a 6–7 point Democratic advantage. Last week’s NBC/WSJ poll had a five-point Democrat advantage and had Obama up by five. Last week’s Washington Post poll of Virginia voters had a twelve-point Democratic advantage and Obama leading by eight.
But here’s the thing: The most recent Rasmussen party identification poll has Republicans with a 4.3 percentage point advantage over Democrats nationally. At the same point in the 2008 election cycle Democrats had a 5.7 percent advantage. That’s a 10 point swing, a swing that began to manifest itself in the 2010 midterms, when the Democrats’ advantage fell to just 1.2 points — and they suffered an epic blowout .
The polls may be provide a fairly accurate snapshot of where the race is today. But there’s reason to believe Obama’s appreciably weaker than four years ago, and Republicans should be more optimistic than the timid souls that populate our TV screens seem to be.