We can thank two of the nation's best political pollsters, Democrat Peter Hart and Republican Bill McInturff, for finally putting the 2012 race in clear perspective. Their latest poll for NBC and the Wall Street Journal shows Obama in the lead, nationally by 6 percentage points and in the target states by 8 percentage points. The negatives of both candidates are rising and the electorate is now almost completely polarized.
But by digging into the internals of the poll, you find interesting information. In an ominous sign for Obama, among those voters most closely following the race — a proxy for those likeliest to vote — Romney has a slight advantage. But potential trouble for Romney resides in the small pool of undecided voters. I have said previously that undecided voters almost always break strongly against the incumbent. But Hart and McInturff point out that while these voters dislike both candidates, their antipathy for Romney is almost unprecedented. Among undecided voters, Romney’s favorability to unfavorability is 16% to 44%.
Essentially, this race comes down to one candidate who is a disappointment on the most important issue facing the country and a candidate who is disliked by the voters. So far, Obama's campaign has figured out how to keep Romney's negatives high, and this latest ad from the Obama Super PAC shows it won't let be letting up anytime soon. Meanwhile, Romney's challenge remains the same as it has been since he entered the race: connecting with voters who increasingly dislike him.