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Daily Breakdown: Polls, Ads, and Coal

Still not much evidence of a Ryan bounce.


On balance, this is a solid crop of polls for Romney, but it’s harder to argue that Ryan has much to do with it. At first glance, Romney’s gains in the Gallup poll might be ascribed to Ryan, but the Gallup poll is a seven-day sample, and there’s reason to think that Romney’s gains might have happened before the Ryan pick. Late last week, Obama’s approval ratings in Gallup’s approval tracker collapsed to 43 percent. Gallup’s approval tracker is only a three-day sample, so the effects of this hit were seen more quickly in the approval tracker than in the head-to-head tracker. Now, it’s important to emphasize that this doesn’t make the Gallup poll any better for Obama: It’s Romney’s first lead in the Gallup poll since June. But, it suggests that Ryan might not be the cause of Romney’s strong showing.

What would be better evidence of a Ryan bounce? Movement in Rasmussen, a sustained Romney advantage in Gallup, or a new poll from one of the firms that conducted a survey in the weeks prior to the Ryan announcement.

Romney also had a decent day in Ohio, with PPP and Rasmussen pointing toward a slim Obama lead. That’s not great news for Romney in an absolute sense, but it does represent an improvement over Rasmussen’s past poll and other recent polls in Ohio, which have shown Obama with a larger lead. While the big shift in New Hampshire might seem significant, it’s probably the least interesting poll released today—the previous poll was old, surveying registered voters, and Obama held at 51 percent. And no, Missouri probably isn’t a toss-up, regardless of what this Cheilinski poll suggests.

Odds and Ends

--At least for this week, the good people of Iowa are ground zero in the campaign. Four of the ten most heavily advertised media markets are in Iowa, Obama’s on a three-day bus tour in the state, and Ryan is visiting as well. Incredibly, the Quad Cities media market is receiving 2805 GRPs (gross rating points, which measure the number of advertisements aired in a media market; 1,000 per campaign is generally considered saturation), even though many of those advertisements are wasted on viewers in Illinois.

--For the last month, Romney and allies have outspent Obama by more than a 2-to-1 margin. At some point, one would expect this type of deluge to start moving the needle, right? But perhaps the static race is just a sign that the Romney campaign’s advertising has reached the point of diminishing returns with just under three months to go until the election. Roanoke-Lynchburg is receiving 2520 GRPs from Romney and his allies, and if 1,000 per campaign is the rule for saturation, then how much are GOP groups really getting out of the final 1520 points? Perhaps not much: Obama hasn’t trailed in a Virginia poll since June and Rasmussen has shown Obama making gains in Virginia in every poll since April (R+1, tie, O+1, O+2).

-While Obama attacks Romney on wind in Iowa and Colorado, Romney is stressing his half of the energy debate in Ohio, where he attacked Obama for a “war on coal” in eastern Ohio’s mining country. The coal regions of eastern Ohio have traditionally been friendly to Democrats, but, like West Virginia, west Pennsylvania, and southwestern Virginia, eastern Ohio has moved toward Republicans in recent years. Obama’s probably not going to win any of these areas in November, and there aren’t nearly as many voters here as one might guess from the punditry. But Obama is vulnerable to additional losses given the large number of Democratic-leaning white working class voters, and additional losses beyond those incurred between 1988 and 2008 could make the difference in an extremely close race. Of course, Romney’s vulnerable too—he’s hardly a good fit for traditionally Democratic and populist voters in coal country—and Romney once opposed a coal-fired plant for “killing people” as Governor of Massachusetts. Eastern Ohio and southwestern Virginia are likely to get plenty of attention from both campaigns, but given the weaknesses of both candidates and a relatively small population, it’s unlikely that historians will argue that the election was decided by voters in these two regions.