Friday, September 21, 2012

New poll: Obama expands lead in Wisconsin

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Yesterday, Richard noted that the swing states are swinging in Obama's direction. One such state is Wisconsin, and the two polls he referenced showed the president up by 6 and, yes, 14 points. Well, the truth may be somewhere in between, assuming that 14 is an outlier result, and a new PPP poll has him up by 7, with his lead growing, his support looking strong, and the underlying numbers backing it all up:

PPP's newest Wisconsin poll finds Barack Obama opening back up a wide lead in the state. He has 52% to 45% for Mitt Romney.  This is the largest lead we've found for Obama in the state since February. Our previous two polls had shown just a single point separating the two candidates.

One thing that's definitely not helping Romney is his comments about the '47%' this week. 86% of voters say they're familiar with what Romney said and 53% consider his comments to have been inappropriate, compared to only 40% who feel they were appropriate. 39% of independent voters say Romney's comments made them less likely to vote for him compared to only 20% who consider them a positive, and Obama's now opened up a 52-43 lead with independents.

The movement toward Obama in Wisconsin isn't all about Romney flubbing though. Obama's on pretty solid ground in his own right with 52% of voters approving of him to 47% who disapprove. That's up a net 9 points from a month ago when his approval spread was 46/50. Voters trust Obama more than Romney both on the issue of the economy (51/46) and on foreign policy (52/44).

Another major development in Wisconsin is that Democrats are starting to match the enthusiasm level of the Republicans, something they weren't able to do in the recall election in June. 65% of Democrats say they're 'very excited' about voting in the elections this fall compared to 63% of Republicans. A big part of the GOP's success in Wisconsin over the last couple years has been having the more fired up base, but it doesn't appear that advantage will continue to be in place this fall. 

Two things stand out for me: Obama's lead among independents and rising Democratic enthusiasm. For Romney to win, he needs -- other than a terrible economy, some sort of sudden crisis that he can exploit a bit more effectively that the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya, and, of course, Republican voter suppression efforts aimed at reducing the Democratic vote -- to pull over a significant chunk of independents and Republican voters to be as energized as possible (not so much pro-Romney, though, as anti-Obama) while Democratic support for the president remains lukewarm.

Well, Romney is getting the exact opposite of what he needs in terms of independent support and voter enthusiasm. It's happening in Wisconsin, Paul Ryan's home state, which is moving into solidly Obama territory, and it's happening all across the country.

But maybe that whole anti-Democratic (and anti-democratic) voter suppression thing will work. You never know.

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