Today was one of Romney’s better polling days since early May, with the balance of polling placing him in better shape both nationally and in the battlegrounds than most other polls over the last month.
The Purple Strategies poll in Ohio was the first poll to show Romney with a lead in the Buckeye State since early June and it’s the second poll this week to show Romney at least tied. Just as importantly, the quintet of battleground surveys showed Romney up in Virginia and Florida as well.
While all of this might seem to point toward a Ryan bump, there’s still not much evidence of clear movement in Romney’s direction. Notice that while there's plenty of red in the left hand column, there's more blue on the right. It's somewhat better for Romney than the right-hand column makes it appear, since he's doing about as well as he's done in the Rasmussen and Gallup trackers. But most of these polls are roughly in line with their prior results, and the battleground polls showed Obama’s position improving in Colorado and Florida, even if he slipped in Virginia and Ohio. And to the extent that the Purple Strategies polls were good for Romney, they also assumed that Obama's approval rating was at 43 percent in the battlegrounds. Now perhaps that's true, but most other polls show Obama's approval holding steady in the mid-to-upper forties. So Obama outperformed his approval rating in these four surveys, and that points toward weakness for Romney, if in fact Obama's approval ratings remain anchored where they've been for the last 6 months in the upper-forties. The YouGov/Economist poll had been one of Romney's best polls in recent weeks, but Obama seems to have rebounded a bit.
On balance, the polls since the Ryan pick seem to show about one point of movement toward Romney, but that's not enough to even be sure there was a point of movement at all.
Perhaps more importantly, recent polls don’t give the impression that Obama has moved out to a 6 point lead among registered voters, as was suggested by most of the live interview monthly media polls over the few weeks prior to the Ryan pick. Either Obama’s gains were just noise or the Ryan pick arrested or reversed Romney’s slide before other polls could confirm. For now, the race looks about how it's looked for the last few months: a narrow but clear Obama advantage.
Odds and Ends
--A unique poll of “unlikely voters” (the unregistered and disinterested) found that Obama has a double-digit lead among those who won’t be voting in 2012. These top-line numbers just shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. We already know that Republicans tend to do better in polls of likely voters, so who do you think was winning the unlikely voters?
--The White House has invested in a brewery and Obama might be inebriated in Iowa as we speak, since nearly every campaign stop now involves a beer at a local bar. Now, beer has always been part of playing man-of-the-people, but perhaps the White House’s unusual investment is a sign that the Obama campaign might be trying to draw attention to their teetotaler opponent. If voters select the candidate they want to have a beer with, as was supposedly the case in 2004, then Obama would be all but assured of reelection.
--While recent polls show a tight race in Missouri, there's no reason to believe the state is a toss-up. The state has a large white working class population, neither campaign is investing there, and Obama lost despite winning nationally by a considerable margin in 2008. The state is solid-Romney in my book and won't flip in anything short of a big Obama victory.