The latest Washington Post/ABC poll gives Romney a 2-point lead, reversing a 3-point Obama lead in December. CNN shows Obama with a 2-point lead.
A much-discussed paper by Ruy Teixeira and John Halpin of the liberal Center for American Progress indicated that demographic changes in key battleground states — chiefly growth in young voters and Latinos — would tilt the 2012 playing field toward Obama.
There’s no question that Obama should profit among Latinos from Romney’s hard-line immigration views — topped by his close alignment with Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who wrote model legislation that served as the basis for measures passed into law in Arizona and Alabama that cracked down on illegal immigrants.
Still, the latest Gallup poll shows Obama’s approval rating among Latinos is only 56 percent, down from 67 percent in 2008 exit polls.
Obama won 55 percent of support among women in 2008, but he’s currently at 48 percent. Among whites, he’s down from 43 percent to 36 percent. Among voters aged 18-29, he’s down from 66 percent to 53 percent.
Obama got just 45 percent support among seniors in 2008; he’s now down to 40 percent approval. And, crucially, among independent voters, he’s dropped from 52 percent to 42 percent.
Independent voters clearly are dismayed that Obama has failed to fulfill his major campaign promise: to unite “red” and “blue” America to get the country’s problems solved.
According to the Washington Post poll, 52 percent of voters say Obama has accomplished either “not much” (25 percent) or “little or nothing” (27 percent), while 47 percent say he’s accomplished “a great deal” (12 percent) or “a good amount” (35 percent).
Of those who think he’s accomplished little or nothing — presumably, mainly independents and Republicans — Obama gets the blame by a whopping 56 percent to 18 percent.
Obama is trying to convince the electorate that he saved America from plunging into a second Great Depression and is succeeding in triggering a recovery, albeit a slow one.
Improving unemployment numbers will help. Any renewed downturn — even if it’s the result of trouble in Europe — will hurt.
Obama will have the advantage of being able to husband his vast campaign resources if Romney’s opponents, especially former Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) and former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.), do not soon drop out of the race.
Romney seeks every opportunity to direct fire at Obama for trying to turn America into a “European welfare state,” but his opponents are equipping Obama with ammunition as they dwell on dealings by his former firm, Bain Capital.
The Democratic Party has also been assiduously adopting Romney’s GOP rivals’ argument that he’s a serial flip-flopper, and last week, former investment banker William D. Cohan unleashed a devastating critique that combined attack lines on Romney.
Cohan, author of two books on the misdeeds of Wall Street, charged that, under Romney, Bain made huge profits by offering high initial bids to buy firms at auction and eliminating competitors and then found ways to drastically reduce the offer during final negotiations.
“This win-at-any-cost approach makes me wonder how a President Romney would negotiate with Congress, or with China, or with anyone else — and what a promise, pledge or endorsement from him would actually mean,” Cohan wrote.