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Mitt Romney flashes cash with his Bain partners
NBC's Mark Murray breaks down a key part of the new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll showing an essentially unchanged presidential race, with 47 percent of registered voters favoring President Obama and 44 percent favoring Mitt Romney:
Among swing-state respondents in the poll – those living in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin – Obama leads Romney, 50 to 42 percent.

Also in these swing states, Romney’s favorability numbers have dropped, possibly reflecting the toll the negative Obama TV advertisements are having on the former Massachusetts governor in these battlegrounds.

A month ago, Romney’s favorable/unfavorable score stood at 34-38 percent nationally and 36-36 percent in the 12 swing states.

But in this latest survey, his national fav/unfav score is 33-39 percent and 30-41 percent in the swing states.

In addition, the poll shows that attitudes about Romney’s business background – a frequent target in Obama ads – also are more unfavorable in these battlegrounds.

As Murray points out, on a national basis Romney's business record is seen as a positive by 23 percent of registered voters and as a negative by 28 percent. But in the swing states, it's 18 percent positive to 33 percent negative. That may partly be a result of demographics and regional differences, but it's also reflects the fact that voters in swing states are getting exposed to more information about Romney's business record, both through local media coverage and television advertising.

(One quibble with Murray: Almost all of the Obama ads that have actually gone on the air have avoided Bain, at least before the campaign's newest ad focused on outsourcing. Instead, the anti-Bain ads primarily have come from Priorities USA, the pro-Obama Super PAC and maker of terrific ads.)

Not only is Romney seen more negatively in swing states, but Obama is running stronger. As with Bain, that reflects the fact that President Obama's campaign has been focusing on those states, not just with advertising, but also presidential and vice presidential visits as well as organizing on the ground. That said, so is Mitt Romney. Between his campaign and Karl Rove's anti-Obama Super PAC, President Obama has taken a pounding in swing states.

Still, he's leading in those states, and the fact that he's leading despite Romney's aggressive campaigning is a very good sign for the President's reelection campaign, especially given the weak economic news that we began the month with. Obama has by no means closed the deal—he still needs to win the argument about whether his policies or Romney's would be better for the country's economic future—but despite Romney's best efforts, voters still blame Bush for the economic challenges we face today. That doesn't lock up victory for Obama, but given that Romney is basically proposing a return to Bush policies, it is a huge advantage for the president.


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