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Posted at 09:11 AM ET, 08/10/2012

The Morning Plum: Is Romney in real trouble?

Two more national polls came out late yesterday, and the results are not good for Mitt Romney. First, from CNN:

President Obama has opened up a 7-point lead over Mitt Romney nationally, according to a CNN-ORC poll released on Thursday. Obama leads Romney 52 percent to 45, according to the poll.
While Obama is only up by 4 percentage points nationally, according to the RealClearPolitics average of polls, the CNN-ORC survey is the second poll this week to show Obama with a 7-point lead. Obama led Romney 49 percent to 42, according to a Reuters-Ipsos poll released earlier this week.

And second, a Fox News poll finds Obama ahead 49 percent to 40, a five-point increase in Obama’s lead and “the second time this year the president has had a lead outside the poll’s margin of sampling error.” The details don’t look good for Romney either: In both polls, Obama increased his support with independents and with men (who have been tough for Obama to win over); Romney’s unfavorablity rating rose (to 45% in the Fox poll and 48% in the CNN poll); and Obama closed the gap on the question of who would handle the economy better, with Obama taking a 47-45 lead in the CNN poll.

Even worse for Romney, while the economy is still far from good, economic indicators are taking a turn for the better:

The long-moribund housing market has bustled to life, with prices and new-home construction rising in recent weeks. Hiring, so weak earlier this year, picked up last month. And on Thursday, the government reported an acceleration of a downward trend in the number of people seeking unemployment insurance, as well as a sharp improvement in U.S. exports.

An economic downturn is still possible, which could shift the race back in Romney’s favor. But the Obama campaign’s attacks on Romney appear to be working. In the CNN poll, “Sixty-four percent of all Americans, and 68% of independents, think Romney favors the rich over the middle class.” What’s more, as Greg has been pointing out, the Romney campaign appears to have decided he can’t win on a message about the economy alone, and has pivoted into a more cultural politics of resentment that seems right out of an old GOP playbook (see the “you didn’t build that” and “welfare check” attacks).

And the economy is now looking up slightly, though it has a long way to go. Before this week, Obama’s chances were pretty good, largely because of strong numbers in the swing states. Now the gap is widening. If the economy doesn’t, er, bail Romney out, he will need a brilliant performance in the next few months to win. A performance, if the campaign so far is any guide, that Romney doesn’t have in him.

* New Obama ad hits back at Romney welfare lie: The Obama campaign is up with a new ad pushing back hard on Romney’s false claim that under Obama’s plan, welfare checks would be sent to people who don’t work:

As I reported here the other day, Romney is putting real money into this attack, running an ad on it that is airing at 50 percent in all Romney markets. Similarly, today’s Obama ad is running in seven swing states — a sign the Obama camp thinks the Romney argument has the potential to take hold, or at least the precautions have to be taken against it. — gs

* Conservatives push for Paul Ryan: The New York Times has a good overview of the escalating conservative pressure on Romney to pick Paul Ryan as his vice president. The Wall Street Journal and the Weekly Standard expressed strong support for Ryan on Thursday, and the Romney camp’s Romneycare fumble (in which his adviser admitted Romneycare/universal health care is the solution) has only increased worries among conservatives that Romney isn’t “one of them.”

As David Frum wrote yesterday, for conservatives, nominating Ryan “is about controlling the Romney campaign — and ultimately the Romney presidency. It’s about forcing a platform on Romney, and then dictating the agenda for that presidency’s first year. The platform happens to be suicidal, and the agenda impossible, but that does not matter to the Ryan advocates.”

* Obama camp fumbles super PAC ad response: “Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki acknowledged Thursday that the campaign was no longer pleading ignorance about the story of a man who has appeared in both a super PAC ad and a campaign ad,” reports Politico.

Psaki, adviser Robert Gibbs and deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter had all denied knowledge of Joe Soptic’s background. It’s an unforced, stupid error from the Obama camp. Even if Gibbs, Psaki and Cutter didn’t know about Soptic — and it’s hard to believe none of them did — the campaign looks very bad, and hands Romney’s camp a distraction.

* Big Business spend big against Sherrod Brown: The Washington Post reports that the Chamber of Commerce, Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS and other conservative groups are spending tens of millions in attack ads against Senator Sherrod Brown, with most of the money’s sources hidden. Although Brown has a comfortable lead, outside advertising has already worked to tighten the Senate race in Florida. Between this avalanche of secret cash and the voter ID problems in Ohio, it’s worth keeping an eye on this race — which could be pivotal to control of the Senate.

* Unions deny Dems convention cash: Also in Politico today, many unions are refusing to to help pay for this year’s Democratic convention and the events around it, partly because North Carolina is a right to work state. Though it may hurt Dems in the short-term, labor is right to put its foot down, especially since Obama is hardly a pro-worker president. Dems need to take the frayed relations with labor seriously, and give more support to unions and working-class Americans in general.

* Dem convention to feature Republicans: Politico has obtained Democratic convention early planning documents. Not only are planners considering a centrist Republican on two of the convention’s three nights, but “the most innovative — and harshest — element of the preliminary program is a nightly `social contrast’ in which two people describe their personal experience with a hot-button issue — one lauding the president’s actions, the other taking Romney to task” on issues like Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, Planned Parenthood and immigration. This could make for powerful television.

* New safeguards for mortgage borrowers: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Friday put forward new rules protecting homeowners in danger of foreclosure. Mortgage servicers have a long track record of abuses, most notably the “robo-signing” scandals that large banks settled for billions of dollars.

The new rules are both good policy and good politics, although as Yves Smith notes, the CFPB will need a big enforcement budget. One hopes the White House will give this the publicity it deserves — it’s an example of the much-maligned Elizabet Warren creation delivering results to real people.

* And today in out-of-context attacks on Obama: The Drudge Report wins this week’s Lee Atwater award for Distinguished Achievement in the Field of Blatant Misrepresentation. Here’s Obama’s original quote, in Colorado yesterday:

I said I believe in American workers, I believe in this American industry, and now the American auto industry has come roaring back and GM is number one again. So now I want to do the same thing with manufacturing jobs not just in the auto industry, but in every industry. I don’t want those jobs taking root in places like China. I want them taking root in places like Pueblo.

As Media Matters notes, Drudge’s headline on this was “Let’s Repeat Auto Bailout ‘With Every Industry’,” even though the context makes clear the president was saying he wants to replicate the auto bailouts’s success with every industry. The RNC is now pushing this falsehood as well, so expect to hear the original claim again to become a conservative talking point very quickly.

What else?

By  |  09:11 AM ET, 08/10/2012

 
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