A new poll from Quinnipiac University, the New York Times and CBS News of three key swing states is extraordinarily good news for President Obama. There’s no other way to describe it. He’s ahead of presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney in Florida (51 percent to 45 percent), Ohio (50 percent to 44 percent) and Pennsylvania (53 percent to 42 percent). Now you understand my enthusiasm.
Think about it. Folks are worried about the economy. Obama is the incumbent and is being held responsible for the anemic recovery. Unemployment remains above 8 percent nationally. And it doesn’t appear as though it will come down anytime soon. Yet, in this poll of likely voters in those three swing states, the president is ahead. Yeah, yeah, this is a snapshot in time and, these numbers are bound to change. But there are four nuggets in this survey that should make Chicago happy and Boston cringe.
Nugget One: “Which comes closest to your view of Barack Obama’s economic policies?”
Likely voters in all three states have a rosier view of where things are going than I’d expected when you combine the percentages of those who responded “Improving the economy and will continue to” and “Not improved, but will if given time.” In Pennsylvania, it’s 56 percent of likely voters. In Florida, it’s 55 percent. And in Ohio, it’s 54 percent.
Nugget Two: Women want Obama
The president leads among this vital constituency. In Florida, he snags 51 percent. In Ohio, he grabs 58 percent. And in Pennsylvania, Obama has the support of 59 percent of likely women voters there.
Nugget Three: Tax the “rich”
A key policy for Obama’s presidency and his reelection is the expiration of the Bush tax cuts for incomes higher than $250,000. Republicans scream class warfare and that this would be a tax increase on job creators. Unfortunately for them, their argument is losing big in those states. They are all for it in Florida (58 percent), Ohio (60 percent) and Pennsylvania (62 percent).
Nugget Four: “No difference”
The question was straightforward: “If Mr. Obama/Mr. Romney is reelected/elected, do you think his economic policies would help or hurt your financial situation?” And as Mike Barnicle said on “Morning Joe” today, the response to this question is perhaps the most devastating to the Romney campaign. “Won’t make any difference” was the response of 37 percent of likely voters in Pennsylvania and 34 percent in Ohio for both men. But in Florida, 34 percent Romney “won’t make any difference” while 36 percent said the same about Obama.
Romney has built his entire campaign around being a better steward of the economy than the president. He’s hammered Obama over the sluggish recovery, the deficits, the spending, everything. Yet, he’s not breaking through to the folks in these key battleground states. You’d think that he would at least be ahead of the president in the “Would help” category. Nope. Romney is tied with Obama on this response in Ohio (26 percent.) Romney beats Obama in Florida (31 percent to 23 percent), but “Won’t make a difference” comes out on top with 34 percent. With the margin of error plus or minus 3 percetage points, Romney’s advantage in Pennsylvania (26 percent) over Obama (23 percent) is a statistical tie.
At this moment in time in these battleground states, Romney’s economic message just isn’t getting through. And it’s because Romney has a credibility problem. I’ll explain in the next post.