New Poll, Same Story: Obama Holds Narrow Lead Over Romney

BY Christina Bellantoni and Terence Burlij  May 23, 2012 at 9:21 AM EST

President Obama; photo by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama arrives at Andrews Air Force Base on Wednesday en route to Colorado Springs to deliver the commencement address at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

For the second day in a row, a new national poll gives President Obama a narrow lead over Mitt Romney despite apprehension among voters about the state of the economy.

The president holds a 47 percent to 43 percent advantage over the presumptive Republican nominee among registered voters in the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey, with the margin just outside the poll’s 3.4 percent sampling error.

Only a third of respondents said the economy would improve in the next year, down seven points from two months ago. Fifty-two percent said they disapproved of the president’s handling of the economy.

Just a third of respondents also said they thought the country was moving in the right direction, compared with 58 percent who thought it was on the wrong track.

Voters were more evenly split when asked for their impression of the seriousness of the economic downturn. Forty-five percent said it is the kind of tough times that happen from time to time, while 48 percent said this was the start of a longer-term decline for the country.

The president outperforms Romney among key groups, including younger voters (55 percent to 35 percent), women (53-38) and independents (44-36).

He also receives strong marks on his handling of certain issues. By a 54 percent to 13 percent margin, respondents said his policies have made the war in Iraq better. He received a similar score on his handling of the war in Afghanistan (48 percent to 18 percent) and the U.S. auto industry (47-18).

Romney does better with white voters (52 percent to 39 percent), suburban residents (47-41) and Midwesterners (48-43). While his business background is seen as a potential advantage by nearly 60 percent of voters, the poll found that views were not yet formed about his experience at Bain Capital.

Only 9 percent said they had a positive view of the firm; 19 percent had a negative view. More than half of respondents — 53 percent — said they either weren’t sure or weren’t familiar with the firm.

In an even more important metric, Romney made up ground in the valuable swing state of Florida. A new Quinnipiac University poll of Sunshine State voters finds Romney leading the president by a 47 percent to 41 percent margin. A May 3 poll found the men basically tied. On March 28 Mr. Obama held a 49 percent to 42 percent lead over the presumptive GOP nominee in the state, which carries 29 Electoral College votes.

Explore the different scenarios for the battleground states in our Vote 2012 Map Center.

NEW OBAMA ADS

The president’s re-election team unveiled two television ads Wednesday as part of its $25 million strategy for May. The campaign said the ads will run in nine states considered to be battlegrounds: Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

The spot titled “Personal” highlights the president’s efforts to protect Medicare from “health care scam artists who prey on seniors.” The narrator says the president’s crackdown will help “preserve Medicare now and for the future.”

You can watch the ad here or below.

The other ad, “Sacred Trust,” is aimed at a different group of voters: military veterans.

The 30-second spot features the president in his own words applauding the sacrifices made by the troops and noting that the country has a “sacred trust” to care for veterans when they return home from the battlefield.

“It’s not enough just to make a speech about how much we value veterans. It’s not enough just to remember them on Memorial Day,” Mr. Obama says.

You can watch that ad here or below.

The spots are the latest examples of how the campaigns are tailoring their message to appeal to specific voters.

BAIN BASHING

As Vice President Joe Biden kept up the campaign’s attacks on Romney over his role at the private equity firm Bain Capital, Judy Woodruff moderated a debate between former Missouri GOP Sen. Jim Talent, a Romney adviser, and former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat.

Talent said that although evaluating Romney’s record at Bain is fair, he thinks the ads put out by the Obama campaign are “false and misleading.” He also offered a talking point voters will likely hear a lot heading into the fall:

[F]irms that invest in distressed companies can’t save them all. It’s like doctors can’t save all their patients, but, on balance, Bain under Gov. Romney created well over 100,000 jobs, which is certainly more than has been created in the Obama administration because we’re down over 500,000 over the last three-and-a-half years.

Strickland said the president is “not attacking private equity and he’s not attacking free enterprise.”

“He’s simply attacking what Rick Perry called vulture capitalism, where investors get really, really rich by buying companies, loading them up with debt, driving them into bankruptcy, taking away jobs and pensions and health care from workers,” Strickland said. He also parroted the Obama campaign’s line about what Romney uses to trump his experience to voters.

“He doesn’t talk a lot about his experience and his record as governor. He wasn’t a successful governor,” Strickland said.

Watch the segment here or below.

In this week’s Political Checklist, Christina, Judy and Gwen Ifill also discussed how Romney uses Bain on the trail. Watch that here or below.

2012 LINE ITEMS

  • The Romney campaign released a web video Wednesday using the president’s comments about how Romney’s record at Bain “is what the campaign will be about.” The video then turns to a series of testimonials from people who share stories about their economic struggles.

  • The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza rounds up the Kentucky and Arkansas primaries, and what the results mean for the president and Romney.

  • Talking Points Memo runs down the spokespeople behind each presidential campaign.

  • Crossroads GPS went live with a major television buy attacking the president. Watch that here.

  • Priorities USA responds in an ad going after Karl Rove. Watch that here.

  • Politico’s Josh Gerstein reports, “Just weeks after Pentagon and Central Intelligence Agency officials warned publicly of the dangers posed by leaks about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, top officials at both agencies and at the White House granted Hollywood filmmakers unusual access to those involved in planning the raid and some of the methods they used to do it, newly released government records show.”

  • The left-leaning Public Policy Polling’s latest Pennsylvania survey found very little has changed in the Keystone State over the last 10 weeks. The president leads Romney by eight points, 50 percent to 42 percent, after holding a 49 percent to 42 percent advantage there in March.

  • The Associated Press’ Phil Elliott writes about Romney’s courtship of female voters.

  • Biden compared Romney’s experience in private equity to that of a plumber.

TOP TWEETS

OUTSIDE THE LINES

Cassie Chew and Alex Bruns contributed to this report.

ON THE TRAIL

All events are listed in Eastern Time.

  • President Obama delivers the commencement address at the Air Force Academy at 12 p.m., attends a campaign event in Denver at 5:35 p.m. and delivers remarks at campaign events in Atherton at 10:20 p.m. and in Redwood City at 12:10 a.m.

  • Vice President Biden hosts a reception for labor leaders at the Naval Observatory at 6:45 p.m.

  • Mitt Romney addresses the Latino Coalition’s Small Business Summit luncheon in Washington, D.C., at 12 p.m.

All future events can be found on our Political Calendar:


For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

Follow the politics team on Twitter: @cbellantoni, @burlij, @elizsummers, @kpolantz, @indiefilmfan and @tiffanymullon.