Post Convention Polls Show Obama Leads Romney

BY Christina Bellantoni and Katelyn Polantz  September 11, 2012 at 8:09 AM EDT

Obama supporters

Supporters of the president chant, “Four more years,” as he speaks at an event Sunday in West Palm Beach, Fla. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

The past 24 hours have delivered a pair of national polls with two clearly distinct snapshots of the state of the presidential race.

First came the CNN/ORC International survey that showed President Obama leading Mitt Romney, 52 percent to 46 percent, among likely voters, giving the Democratic incumbent a four-point bounce from a post-Tampa/pre-Charlotte convention poll that had the candidates tied at 48 percent.

The latest Washington Post/ABC News survey, however, showed the race remained virtually unchanged from before the conventions, with the president edging his GOP rival by a single point, 49 percent to 48 percent, which is within the poll’s sampling error of plus-or-minus 4 percent. (Among all registered voters, the president topped Romney, 50 percent to 44 percent, which suggests turnout is a crucial factor for the Obama campaign.)

The Post’s Dan Balz and Jon Cohen write on the front page that the president’s “relative strength emerges when all voters are asked to compare the two contenders on a series of issues and attributes.”

From the story:

On 15 items, Obama has significant leads on eight, Romney on zero. Romney also no longer has the pre-convention advantages he held on dealing with the economy and what had been his best issue, handling the federal deficit.

The president holds double-digit leads in areas of particular focus at his party’s convention, including addressing women’s issues (Obama leads Romney by 21 percentage points), advancing the interests of the middle class (15 points), and social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage (11 points). Obama also has a fresh, albeit slender, lead on dealing with taxes.

Three new questions emphasize the president’s advantage over Romney when it comes to personal attributes. By a margin of nearly 20 points, voters are more apt to say they would like to have Obama as a dinner guest, and the president also leads by double digits as the person voters would want to take care of them if they were sick and who they say would make a more loyal friend.

Chris Cillizza points out the one character attribute that’s central to Romney’s chances and closest to giving him an edge over the president. Voters in the poll responded to the question “on a ship in a storm, who would you rather have as the captain?” Romney took 44 percent to 43 percent for Mr. Obama among independents.

The CNN/ORC International poll released Monday reported that the president receives 52 percent support from likely voters nationwide, versus 46 percent for Romney if the election were held today.

The lead factors in a four-point bounce for the president — the so-called post-convention blip that analysts had predicted for the candidates yet which Romney had barely enjoyed after his own party’s convention.

The poll results come even after Friday’s middling jobs report that threatened to dampen the previous night’s energy when the president gave his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention. Romney had a short-lived 1 percent lead in a Reuters/Ipsos poll after he accepted the Republican Party’s nomination in Tampa, Fla., on Aug. 30.

The president’s bigger post-convention gain surely could recede, and Romney pollster and strategist Neil Newhouse labeled Mr. Obama’s number a “sugar high” in a memo released Monday.

A Pew Research Center poll found that 29 percent of people who watched the Democratic convention believed former President Bill Clinton’s speech was the highlight, with just 16 percent saying it was Mr. Obama’s address. Four years ago, 42 percent of convention watchers rated Mr. Obama’s speech as excellent, compared with 29 percent who rated it that highly today.

Number-cruncher Nate Silver of the New York Times’ FiveThirtyEight blog has maintained his prediction of an Obama victory. His Nov. 6 forecast places the president with an 80 percent chance of winning the Electoral College vote.

Of course, we may still be in for a bumpy ride through September and October. As David Fahrenthold of the Washington Post noted: “At this point in 2008, for instance, Lehman Brothers was still in business. Joe the Plumber was still just Joe, a plumber. And Obama was behind.”

THE PATH AHEAD

On Monday night, the NewsHour looked at the state of the race with USA Today Washington bureau chief Susan Page and Stuart Rothenberg of the Rothenberg Political Report and Roll Call.

A few things that they’ve tracked still stick out as keys to the race now.

For one, Page and Rothenberg noted the amount of money raised by both campaigns in August: more than $200 million. It’s private money, and it’s targeted to sway the few swing voters who are listening, Rothenberg said.

“The candidates should go door to door and just bring checks,” Page said, “because that would be less expensive than these ads we have got on all these swing state stations.”

They also noted the pitch of the conventions, from how they’ll factor into the campaigns’ trajectories to their emphasis on showcasing female leaders on the stage.

Watch the segment with Stu and Susan here or below:

Don’t miss Stu’s latest Roll Call column about how the Medicare fight is not a clear win for either party.

ASSESSING DEFENSE POLICY

Both candidates have been actively courting veterans’ votes, with tributes at both conventions to service members. On NBC’s “Meet the Press” this week, Romney said he disagrees with the administration’s position on defense cuts. He called the sequestration plan an “extraordinary miscalculation” and outlined his wish to keep defense spending “at the current level of the GDP.”

The Obama campaign hit back with a press call on Monday featuring Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, spokesman Ben LaBolt and Rob Diamond, the campaign’s national veterans and military families vote director. Clark was on message, telling reporters, “I think that President Obama has the strongest record on veterans than anyone in my lifetime.”

Yet at a Brookings Institution discussion on defense and the election, panelists said they found both candidates positions on this issue lacking in substance, reports NewsHour politics desk assistant Beth Garbitelli. Instead, they said the candidates had been using discussion of defense in thematic and general terms.

Todd Harrison, a senior fellow for defense budget studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments called the differences between the president and Romney “more of a difference of rhetoric.” Senior Brookings fellow Michael O’Hanlon even stated that “Romney’s plan today looks a lot like Obama’s plan of 2009.” But as Harrison pointed out, “We’re comparing plans with very dissimilar levels of detail,” given one man already holds the job and can be judged on a record.

DEFINING ALL-ACCESS

Morning Line readers have probably noticed we’ve done a lot of promoting of our convention coverage of late. Of course, we’re super proud of it. But we’re also using that to spread the word for how we plan broad coverage this entire election season on air and online.

Watch our short outline of what we did online during the convention here or below:

We also had a dynamic live blog run by our team back in Arlington, Va., which tracked every speech and the happenings on the floor. Don’t forget you can see nearly all of the speeches and convention segments on our YouTube page and all of the images taken by our freelance photographers on the ground on our Flickr page.

What would you like to see more of over the next two months? Less of? How can we best serve our online audience through Nov. 6? Let us know. Drop an email to cbellantoni-at-newshour.org.

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OUTSIDE THE LINES

  • NewsHour coordinating producer Linda J. Scott reports from Capitol Hill: Congress faces a crush of big tasks with little hope of accomplishing anything. Unfinished business includes improving cyber security for the nation’s critical infrastructure, overhauling a massive farm bill, fixing a broken U.S. postal system and normalizing trade with Russia. In addition, the decisions on taxes and spending have few clear paths to resolution as politicians look over a fiscal cliff. Lawmakers will be in Washington for about two weeks between now and Election Day. As early as Thursday, they will vote on the continuing resolution to keep the government open. (Roll Call’s Meredith Shiner has more on how the vote is yet another test for Tea Party freshmen.)

  • The New York Times’ Jonathan Weisman and Jennifer Steinhauer report on the shifting Senate landscape, which they characterize as “broader and more fluid than it has been in years.”

  • Roll Call’s Joshua Miller details the House landscape with less than two months to go and finds a wave election is “highly unlikely.”

  • This man has “Legalize Marijuana” tattooed across his chest, and The New Republic says he could be the deciding factor in the Missouri Senate race.

  • Roll Call dives deep into the epic member-vs.-member race between Democratic Reps. Brad Sherman and Howard Berman in California as a group of Republicans come out for Berman.

  • A Democratic congressional candidate in Maryland has withdrawn from the race after her party alleged that she has recently voted in both Maryland and Florida elections.

  • Politico’s M.J. Lee profiled Janna Ryan and found the VP running mate’s wife stays under the radar.

Terence Burlij contributed to this report.

ON THE TRAIL

All events are listed in Eastern Time.

  • President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama observe a moment of silence on the White House South Lawn at 8:45 a.m. Then they travel to the Pentagon for an anniversary observance at 9:30 a.m. The president will visit Walter Reed National Military Medical Center at 2:15 p.m.

  • Vice President Biden delivers remarks in Somerset County, Pa., at the Flight 93 National Memorial Commemorative Service at 9:30 a.m.

  • Mitt Romney will address the National Guard Association Convention in Reno, Nev., at 2:15 p.m.

  • Paul Ryan is back on Capitol Hill for the first time since he was named Romney’s running mate and has no public events.

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, @tiffanymullon, @dePeystah, @meenaganesan and @abbruns.