With the general election unofficially under way, this has been the week of fresh presidential polling, with Gallup debuting its daily tracking of the race and Pew, CNN, Reuters/Ipsos, and CBS/New York Times releasing their own data. The race is poised to be close, and Mitt Romney has the momentum, despite his own notable vulnerabilities.
Pew’s is the most comprehensive, thanks to its large sample and detailed breakdown of demographic subgroups. It’s not particularly good news for the president, even though he leads by 4 points overall in that survey. President Obama is winning over only 39 percent of white voters, right at his personal Mendoza Line for reelection. Despite the president’s populist push, Romney leads 58 percent to 35 percent among white, noncollege voters.
The bright spot for Obama is that he’s holding 67 percent of the Hispanic vote he won in 2008—a prerequisite for him. It’s no coincidence that Romney (privately) said at a recent fundraiser that Obama winning Hispanics “spells doom for us”—and they’re the one group that’s sticking with the president, for now.
On Thursday, the much-respected NBC/Wall Street Journal survey is coming out, which should tell us where the presidential race currently stands. So far, Romney looks in surprisingly healthy shape, even though he emerged from the primary bloodied, his personal favorability ratings in weak shape. It suggests that this race is shaping up to be a referendum, even as Team Obama is working hard to make it a choice.
—Josh Kraushaar, Hotline executive editor
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRIMARY REPORT
Romney’s Critique of War Policy Gets a Closer Look
[New York Times, 4/17/12] Now that Romney has emerged as the likely GOP nominee and Afghanistan is again being tested by a Taliban offensive, his position on the war is likely to come under more scrutiny after a primary fight that gave him few opportunities to offer nuanced national-security positions.
The Impermanent Republican Majority
[New York Times, 4/17/12] In 2004, voters in fast-growing areas flocked to Republican candidates, and Karl Rove envisioned a permanent Republican majority. But after the housing bust, things have changed dramatically: A new Brookings study found that growth in the cities, and densely-populated older suburbs, has eclipsed that of the exurbs since 2010, which could be good news for Democrats.
‘Likability’ A Growing Issue for Mitt Romney
[Boston Globe, 4/18/12] Romney's unfavorability numbers from the newest poll make him the least-liked candidate for a major party since 1984, and another poll released Monday reveals he has a serious likeability gap with Obama. This could prove troublesome for Romney throughout the rest of the campaign, as a close race requires the candidates to hold tight to whatever advantages they can get.
Latino Voters Take Center Stage in Both Presidential Campaigns
[Washington Post, 4/18/12] With the general election looming, Obama and Romney this week are urgently turning their focus to Hispanic voters—a group whose alienation from Republicans threatens GOP prospects for winning the White House and has given the Obama camp an early opportunity to lock in a key constituency.
Obama Camp Releases Spanish-Language Ads
[National Journal, 4/18/12] In a new push for the critical Latino vote, the Obama campaign on Wednesday released a series of Spanish-language TV and radio ads that will air in Hispanic-heavy Colorado, Nevada, and Florida.
Priebus: RNC Holding Out on Mitt To Be Nice to Newt
[BuzzFeed, 4/18/12] Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said that he won’t endorse a Republican candidate for president as long as Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul are still in the race. But he was quick to add that the GOP will unify behind Romney once his nomination is official.
Neutralizing Seamus With Dog Meat
[Politico, 4/17/12] A day after Ann Romney got asked by Diane Sawyer about the infamous dog-on-car-roof episode, things got real on Twitter with a hashtag craze about Obama having eaten dog meat when he was a kid living in Indonesia.
Mitch Daniels Backs Romney, Says He’ll Unify Americans
[National Journal, 4/18/12] Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels on Wednesday described Romney as a person who would bring Americans together and said he is supporting him, although he stopped short of saying the word “endorse.”
Democrats Link Romney and Ted Nugent
[Wall Street Journal, 4/17/12] Democrats are trying to tie Romney to over-the-top language used by hard rock musician Ted Nugent in the wake of his vigorous endorsement of the GOP front-runner. Speaking at the National Rifle Association convention this weekend, Nugent described the Obama administration as “vile, evil, America-hating.”
Romney Begins to Court Moderates, Independents
[National Journal, 4/17/12] Romney met with moderate and independent voters in Pennsylvania on Tuesday to chat about issues ranging from the federal budget deficit to funding for public schools in an attempt to win over a key constituency in advance of November.
The Year of the Surrogate
[Politico, 4/18/12] The nonsurrogate surrogates of the 2012 campaign—Hilary Rosen, Bill Maher, Rush Limbaugh, Ted Nugent—are making the task of campaign message control more complex, and more urgent, than in previous cycles. CORRECTION: An earlier version of this item misspelled Maher's name.
And They're Off: Obama and Romney Start Race Nose-to-Nose in Pew Research Poll
[National Journal, 4/17/12] Obama leads Romney by 4 percentage points in a new Pew Research Center poll, but while a majority of voters said the economy was the most important issue in the election, they were split over which candidate would be the best to improve the economy and create jobs.
Pennsylvania Gov. Endorses Romney as Best Choice to Defeat Obama
[Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/17/12] Saying that Romney will “institute a bold conservative vision that we need in Washington,” Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett endorsed the GOP front-runner on Tuesday. Romney also made several stops around the state ahead of next Tuesday’s primary contest.
House Conservatives Struggle to Get Excited About Romney
[Huffington Post, 4/17/12] Jennifer Bendery asked a dozen conservative congressional Republicans if they were “excited” about Romney’s candidacy. A representative sample from Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio: "We're excited about the opportunity to beat Barack Obama more than anything."
Gingrich Swings Through Keystone State Ahead of Primary
[Associated Press, 4/17/12] Gingrich traveled to his birth state of Pennsylvania on Tuesday for a low-key, two-day swing through the state ahead of next week's primary, claiming that Romney’s nomination is "more of an 'if' than you guys think." He also said he’s asked for Rick Santorum’s support, to no avail.
Ron Paul Still Buying Ad Time in Rhode Island
[The Hill, 4/18/12] Rhode Island votes on April 24, and Ron Paul's campaign is putting up an ad in the state outlining his plan to save federal money by eliminating federal bureaucracies.