We have new polls in four key swing states today including Ohio and Florida. The numbers are below, followed by my analysis.
* OHIO: Obama 51%, Romney 46% -- Obama +1% since 2 weeks ago (Public Policy)
* FLORIDA: Romney 48%, Obama 47% -- Romney +5% since 3 weeks ago (Public Policy)
* COLORADO: Obama 48%, Romney 46% -- Obama +5% since 1 week ago (Gravis)
* NORTH CAROLINA: Romney 49%, Obama 47% -- Romney +2% since 2 weeks ago (Public Policy)
While Romney continues to see very strong numbers in Florida, he also continues to struggle in Ohio. The Ohio poll actually indicates that 19% of the vote is already in, and that Obama leads among early voters 76% to 24%. Romney's post-debate bounce has not been as strong in Ohio as it has been in most other places. Today's Ohio poll seems to pin that on two things: the auto bailout which Ohio voters continue to view as important and positive (and Obama wins among those people) and Romney's still negative favorability rating in the state. Romney has seen a bounce in favorability pretty much everywhere, but he remains underwater in Ohio, a lasting sign of how effective the Obama campaign's early blitz of Bain attack ads have been. As I continue to repeat on a daily basis, this election, like 2004, runs through Ohio. It is a very bad sign for Romney that even at his highest point, he has yet to take the lead in Ohio or even pull the state into a tie. This means even the slightest shift back to Obama, which seems likely as Romney's post-debate bounce fades and assuming Obama doesn't do as badly in the next debate as he did in the first, could cause his Ohio lead to grow.
With Ohio looming so important for Obama, I'd imagine he will focus quite a bit on messaging directly to the state during Tuesday's debate. This would mean emphasis on the auto bailout, Bain Capital, the 47% comments, etc. Ohio is Obama's firewall, it has held up throughout the post-debate shift to Romney, and one has to bet that the Obama campaign will work to fortify it as much as they can.
Obama also got his best poll in Colorado in awhile today, and from a Republican leaning pollster in Gravis no less. The issue of illegal immigration has not come up in either of the first two debates, and with Hispanics playing such a key role for the Obama campaign in Colorado, Nevada, Florida, and even Virginia, I'd be surprised if he didn't target them more in Tuesday's debate. With polling notoriously inaccurate in Nevada and Colorado (pollsters have consistently missed the mark in these two states, largely due to undercounting of Hispanics), it's hard to get a clear gauge of where things stand in those two states.
Going back to the Florida number, most of Romney's gains in the poll came among white women. Obama will need a sizable win among women to carry Florida. It's another group that he is going to have to focus on during the debate to get his margins back up to where they were a few weeks back.
Romney's lead in North Carolina is on the back of whites, who he leads 63% to 33%, and seniors, who he leads 58% to 40%. Obama actually leads among everyone under 65, 49% to 47%. And again, Obama's advantage among women has narrowed to 50% to 46%, smaller than Romney's advantage among men which is at 53% to 43%. Obama would need to get Romney's white vote under 60% and build a bigger advantage among women if he is going to have any shot in North Carolina.
Overall though, today's data is one of Obama's better days in awhile, at least compared to the types of numbers he was seeing last week. Things seem to have settled into a pretty clear picture: things have tightened up everywhere but Obama still has the more likely path to 270 electoral votes. What happens now will largely depend on how the debate on Tuesday goes.
Originally published at No We Can't Politics.