President Romney? Yes, if the election were held today

November 19, 2013

For Mitt Romney, the 2012 election was held about a year too early.

Romney would hold a slight lead on President Obama if the 2012 election were replayed today, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The poll of registered voters shows Romney at 49 percent and Obama at 45 percent in the rematch, a mirror image of Romney's four-point (51-47) popular-vote loss in 2012.

Obama's shifting fortunes, of course, come as his signature health-care law is increasingly embattled -- both thanks to a glitchy Web site and a broken promise by Obama to allow people who like their insurance to keep it.

Obama's loss of support is spread across many demographics, but he has suffered most among the young, the less-educated, the poor and, perhaps most interestingly, among liberals.

To wit:
* Obama won women in 2012 by 11 points, according to exit polls; today he leads by one point.
* He has seen his lead among young voters (18-39 years old) drop from 18 percent to 2 percent.
* His four-point lead among those with less than a college degree has flipped to a nine-point deficit.
* Among those making less than $50,000, Obama's 22-point lead is now three points.
* The biggest drop is among those professing to have no religion. While this group backed Obama by 44 points, it now supports him by a 22-point margin.
* Among liberals, Obama won by 75 points but now leads by 59 percent. One in five self-described liberals (20 percent) say they would vote for Romney.

This all comes with a few caveats.

1. This poll, obviously, is hypothetical. People know there isn't another election between Romney and Obama and may be more willing to change their opinion from the 2012 vote.

2. This doesn't necessarily mean Romney would win the race today. There is, of course, the margin of error and the fact that that the Electoral College -- and not the popular vote -- elects the president.

That said, an eight-point shift in the popular vote, spread across the entire country, would have netted Romney an additional 10 states and 125 electoral votes in 2012. That would mean he would have won the race 331-207 -- virtually the same margin as Obama's 332-206 win.

The Post-ABC poll was conducted Nov. 14-17 among a random national sample of 1,006 adults, including interviews on landlines and with cellphone-only respondents. The overall margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. Click here for interactive results, complete trends over time and methodology.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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