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Romney Gains in South and Nationally

By Hastings Wyman
Southern Political Report

October 23, 2012

Mitt Romney is now leading in every state in today’s Solid South, including the three – Florida, North Carolina and Virginia – that Barack Obama won in 2008 and where his campaign has expended considerable muscle, money and candidate time. Moreover, the nationwide polls also show a marked shift to Romney since the first debate. The President, however, still maintains leads in most of the battleground states.


In Florida, with a substantial 29 electoral votes, virtually all polls now give Romney the lead, with the Real Clear Politics (RCP) average showing a 2.1 point lead for the Republican challenger. The authoritative Mason-Dixon survey shows 51 percent for the Republican challenger to 44 percent the President. The latest CNN poll gave Romney a narrow lead – 49 percent to 48 percent – but it compares with a 50-46 Obama lead in CNN’s previous survey in mid-August. Of interest: The Orlando Sentinel, which endorsed Obama in 2008, has endorsed Romney, a significant boost in the central part of the state that has begun to swing toward the challenger.


In North Carolina, with 15 electoral votes, Romney has a 5.6 point lead, says the RCP average. According to Rasmussen, Romney now has a six-point lead, 52 percent to 46 percent, in a telephone poll of likely voters taken the night after the second presidential debate. News reports indicate that the Romney campaign, now confident of victory in the Tar Heel State, has begun to shift staff from North Carolina to Ohio. One harbinger of the result: The State Board of Elections reports nearly 87,000 Republicans have requested absentee ballots, to 47,000 Democrats and 36,000 independents, says the Raleigh News & Observer.


And in Virginia, with 13 electoral votes, Obama’s once noteworthy lead has dwindled significantly. RCP shows a 48-48 tie. However, the three most recent surveys of the RCP average all show a Romney lead. Rasmussen gives Romney a lead of 50 percent to 47 percent over Obama, in a poll taken two nights after the second presidential debate. A few weeks ago, a Washington Post survey showed Obama ahead in Virginia with 52 percent to 44 percent, so a significant shift to Romney has taken place.


Nationwide, the Gallup Poll, taken just before the second presidential poll, showed Romney with a seven-point lead. The latest Rasmussen national tracking poll gives Romney 49 percent, Obama 47 percent, and the same pollster’s swing state tracking poll gives Romney 40 percent to Obama’s 47 percent, a potentially significant finding if it holds. The HuffPost Pollster tracking model gives Romney an edge of three tenths of one percent. The RCP average shows a 47-47 tie. At least one poll, however, shows a nationwide lead for Obama: Ipsos/Reuters gives Obama 47 percent to Romney’s 44 percent.


Romney’s more favorable numbers in recent surveys reflect in part the favorability ratings of the two candidates, which have changed dramatically since the first debate, when much of the public could for the first time see whether they could visualize Romney as president. Last March, Obama’s favorability rating averaged 55 percent, Romney’s 29 percent, says RCP. Now Romney leads, albeit narrowly: 50 to 49. The second presidential debate did not reverse the trend.


Romney’s progress is also a result of voters’ viewing him as stronger than Obama on handling the economy – by 31 points in one poll, by 18 in another, both nationwide surveys taken since the second debate, which Obama otherwise won narrowly.


Moreover, the RCP Electoral College projection now shows Romney ahead for the first time, with 206 electoral votes to Obama’s 201; it takes 270 to win.


The straws are not just in the Southern wind.


In Missouri, it’s 54 percent for Romney, 43 percent for Obama, says a Rasmussen telephone poll of likely voters, taken the first night after the second presidential debate, a result confirmed by RCP’s 10.3 lead for the GOPer challenger. Romney also has a slim lead – +1 says RCP – in the swing state of New Hampshire, where Obama once held the lead.


Colorado has also moved from Obama to Romney in the past two weeks, says Rasmussen, the fourth state to do so in the past week, according to the firm; it now stands at 50 percent for Romney, 46 percent for Obama.


And in Iowa, Rasmussen now gives Iowa to Romney by a slim 49-47 margin.


Obama continues to lead in other important swing states, says RCP, although within the margin of error in most of them: Michigan (+5), Nevada (+3), Ohio (+2.1), and Wisconsin (+2.8),.


Stay tuned!


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