Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Obama consistently polling ahead of Romney in Ohio

By Richard K. Barry

Here's another poll to chew on, this time a state-level poll in Ohio on the presidential contest. It was done by Public Policy Polling, released May 8th, and it finds that President Obama is leading Mitt Romney by a margin of 50-43 in the state. As PPP's analysis indicates:

That 7 point margin is unchanged from late January when he was ahead by a 49-42 spread. Obama also led 50-41 when PPP polled the state in early November so this makes three polls in a row over the span of six months with him leading by 7-9 points. Obama certainly looks like the favorite in Ohio at this point.

As we will say over and over again, it's early. Polls don't mean a lot. But what it would be prudent to look for are attitudes and dynamics that might have hardened even at this early state. For example, this part of PPP's discussion is interesting:

Ohio voters don't love Obama. They're evenly split with 48% approving and 48% disapproving of him, although that is an improvement from the negative numbers he's posted during most of his time in office. Obama's lead in the state may be driven more by the fact that Ohioans just don't much care for Mitt Romney. 37% have a favorable opinion of him to 53% with a negative one. That includes a 33/59 spread with independents. Romney's performance in Ohio in the primary wasn't terribly impressive and his issues seem to be extending to the general election.

Even in places where Obama doesn't have great favourability numbers, he is still better liked than Romney. Obama will have been president for four years come November. All incumbents have marks against them. Obama doesn't have to be universally popular, only more popular than Romney. It's a little bit like that old joke about a bunch of people running away from a hungry bear. You don't have to be the fastest person in the world, only faster than the slowest in your group. In a two person race, Obama only has to be more popular than one guy. He doesn't have to be universally adored.

This will be something to look for in polls across the country as the race unfolds. If there is one thing we learned from the GOP presidential nomination contest, it is that the more people see of Mitt Romney, the less they like him. And in some ways we're just getting started.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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