Swing-State Numbers Look Good for Obama

BY Terence Burlij and Katelyn Polantz  August 1, 2012 at 9:26 AM EDT

Floridians for Obama; photo by Angel E. Valentin/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Obama campaign volunteers prepare to canvas a Tampa, Fla., neighborhood last week. Photo by Angel E. Valentin/The Washington Post via Getty Images.

The Morning Line

President Obama appears to have a clear advantage in three battleground states heading into the final stretch of the campaign despite lingering doubts about his handling of the economy.

A Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News poll released Wednesday puts the president ahead of Mitt Romney by six points in Florida (51 percent to 45 percent) and Ohio (50-44), and by 11 points in Pennsylvania (53-42). The surveys in all three states having a sampling error margin of plus-or-minus 3 percent.

Those polled in Florida and Ohio roughly split on which of the two candidates would do a better job on the economy, while Pennsylvanians gave a slight edge to the president.

Neither candidate inspired much confidence when asked whether his economic policies would help a respondent’s personal financial situation, hurt it or not make a difference.

Thirty-eight percent of those polled in Florida said Mr. Obama’s policies would hurt their situation, while 36 percent said they would make no difference. Just 23 percent said they’d help. Those marks were reflected in the Ohio and Pennsylvania surveys.

While Romney has cited his business background as giving him a better understanding of how to lead on the economy, potential voters in those three battlegrounds do not believe his economic proposals will do them much better. In Ohio and Pennsylvania, more potential voters said Romney’s policies would hurt or make no difference than help.

The one exception was Florida, where 31 percent said Romney’s economic plans would help, 30 percent said they’d hurt and 34 percent said they’d make no difference to their personal finances.

There are signs that the Obama campaign’s heavy advertising blitz targeting Romney’s private sector experience has had some degree of success.

Half of those polled in Ohio view Romney’s business background as too focused on making profits, compared with 41 percent who said it was the right kind of experience for creating jobs. Voters in Florida (48 percent to 42 percent) and Pennsylvania (51-42) split along similar lines.

The president’s re-election team announced Tuesday it was going on the air in Florida, Ohio, Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada to continue the effort to draw contrasts with Romney’s economic views.

The spot characterizes the president as the candidate who will stick up for the middle class and charges that Romney has proposed a “new $250,000 tax cut for millionaires,” increasing military spending and adding trillions to the deficit.

The ad concludes with the president saying, “I’m Barack Obama and I approve this message, because to cut the deficit we need everyone to pay their fair share.”

Watch the ad here or below.

A Romney campaign spokesman called the spot “ridiculous,” contending the president “shattered his pledge to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term.”

“Under Barack Obama, our nation has suffered from one trillion-dollar deficit after another, contributing to America’s first-ever credit rating downgrade. President Obama’s plans to raise taxes and cut the military won’t create jobs or make us safer. As president, Mitt Romney will revive our economy, strengthen our military, and repair the damage done to the middle class by President Obama’s failed policies,” spokesman Ryan Williams said in a statement.

The Romney campaign also released a television ad Wednesday that attacks the president’s support for the auto bailout.

The 30-second spot highlights a General Motors dealer in Lyndhurst, Ohio, who said the bailout forced him to close his business and lay off 30 employees.

The timing of the ad’s release is no coincidence, as the president is scheduled to make two campaign stops in Ohio on Wednesday.

You can watch the ad here or below.

The decision by Romney to go after the president on the auto bailout is somewhat unexpected, given the recovery of the U.S. auto industry and the difficulty caused by his 2008 New York Times editorial titled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.”

By focusing on the dealers who closed rather than the auto companies on the rebound, Romney is trying to label the president as someone who picked winners and losers and hoping that message resonates with middle-class Americans in the middle part of the country.

ASIANS IN NEVADA

It’s true: Asians — not Latinos — are the fastest-growing racial minority in the United States.

The 2010 Census found that the number of Asian-Americans sky-rocketed in the past decade, and a recent Pew Research study found that Asians surpassed Hispanics as the largest group of new immigrants last year.

This group hasn’t gotten much attention in past presidential election cycles, in part because its numbers have been highest in states that are typically non-competitive, like California and New York. Now that the population in some battleground states is rising dramatically, however, the campaigns are musing: Could this demographic make the difference?

In Virginia alone, the NewsHour has heard recently from multiple political scientists that the campaigns see Asian-American voters as particularly valuable — not just because of their growing numbers, but that they also tend to enjoy affluence and have significant potential in the fundraising game.

Let’s consider the swing state of Nevada, which Mr. Obama won in 2008. The Asian-American population there more than doubled from 2000 to 2010 and now comprises more than 9 percent of the population. Still, the demographic group has had low turnout in past elections.

Hari Sreenivasan traveled to Nevada recently with the politics team. He found registration forms and this year’s ballots translated into Tagalog, a native Filipino language. While the Obama campaign has an outreach program for Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, the Romney campaign targets Asian-American small-business owners.

Watch the segment here or below:

In a related post, NewsHour politics desk assistant Beth Garbitelli wrote about an issue dear to many Asian voters: compensation for Filipino war veterans.

NewsHour politics production assistant Alex Bruns compiled this awesome sllideshow of behind-the-scenes on the Silver State reporting trip:

You can hear more voices from Nevada via our Listen to Me project.

TEXAS-SIZED UPSET

The Tea Party struck again Tuesday night, this time in Texas. It was Tea Party favorite versus establishment candidate, Sarah Palin’s pick vs. Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s guy. The upstart won.

Former Texas solicitor general Ted Cruz defeated Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in a rout to win the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate race this fall. After what had been a close race, Cruz pulled away late and won by 13 points.

(For the sake of fairness, the Democrats also picked a candidate: Former state Rep. Paul Sadler beat retired teacher Grady Yarbrough, 63 percent to 37 percent. We don’t need to spell out how often Democrats defeat Republicans in Texas statewide elections.)

The Republican candidate called his win a “great awakening” at his victory rally, Bloomberg News reported.

Our knee-jerk reaction was to deem this Republican race another Mourdock-ian upset, a testament to the appeal of more conservative challengers as they push the establishment candidate into unstable moderate labels. Was this the same blueprint as Republican Sen. Richard Lugar’s loss in this May’s primary, we wondered.

The New York Times quoted a political scientist, James Henson of the University of Texas, who deemed the race just that — evidence that “the center of the state party has moved decisively to the right.”

But Ross Ramsey of the Texas Tribune takes issue with that line of thinking. This isn’t about Tea Party vs. moderate conservative. It’s a different, broader wave of change.

He writes:

If that story line were correct, the battle for the open U.S. Senate seat in Texas would have exposed a philosophical difference or two between former Solicitor General Ted Cruz and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. The candidates would be talking about their differences on the Tea Party’s primary issues — national spending, debt, taxes and the economy. It would be the Tea Party in this corner against the mainline Republicans in that one. Nothing of the kind is happening here.

This isn’t about the Tea Party’s principles, but it definitely borrows from that movement’s rebellious nature. To steal someone else’s line: It’s the disestablishment, stupid.

If that’s the case, we could be looking at an election that concludes more like mid-term elections in recent memory — one that introduces vast upheaval and throws out a great swath of long-time legislators. The question remains: How much will this November be a referendum on the president?

2012 LINE ITEMS

  • Romney told Fox News’ Carl Cameron that he is “very pleased” with how his trip abroad went, but he said the media seems “far more interested in finding something to write about that is unrelated to the economy, to geo-politics, to the threat of war, to the reality of conflict in Afghanistan today, to nuclearization of Iran.”

  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told the Huffington Post that a Bain Capital investor told him that Romney didn’t pay taxes for 10 years. He also went there, commenting to the reporters, “His poor father must be so embarrassed about his son.”

  • The Associated Press assesses the impact of third-party presidential candidates. We said it before, and we’ll say it again: If you’re watching Virginia, watch for Virgil Goode.

  • Florida is a “sheer tossup,” a new survey from the left-leaning Public Policy Polling found. The poll of likely voters gave Mr. Obama a 48 percent-to-47 percent edge over Romney. PPP also concluded that having GOP Sen. Marco Rubio as a running mate would push Romney to a 49 percent-to-47 percent lead over the president.

  • The president stars in a campaign web video in which he donates to his own re-election bid.

  • Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina says he thinks Rubio could use more experience before being selected as Romney’s running mate.

  • Chris Cillizza dishes on the Romney inner circle.

TOP TWEETS

OUTSIDE THE LINES

  • Kentucky Rep. Geoff Davis, a Republican, abruptly resigned his seat in Congress on Tuesday, citing a family health issue. He already had announced he was not seeking re-election.

  • Congress hashed out a deal to avoid a government shutdown — for another few months.

  • Vice President Joe Biden penned an op-ed for McClatchy about the Violence Against Women Act.

  • The District of Columbia won’t have a ban on late-term abortions after a bill failed to get two-thirds of the votes in the House.

  • Roll Call’s Daniel Newhauser has the details on a Republican confrontation over the abortion bill. Reps. Mary Bono Mack of California and Robert Dold of Illinois were not happy with Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia.

  • Fox’s Chad Pergram blogs that the abortion measure is an example of why members like Steven LaTourette of Ohio are leaving Congress.

  • The Pew Research Center has a new poll showing 65 percent of Democrats support gay marriage, compared with just 50 percent of Democrats backing the practice in 2008. The survey of 2,973 adults found that just 24 percent of Republicans now favor gay marriage and that “independent support for gay marriage has grown substantially since 2008.”

  • Scott Wong writes for Politico that “Indiana Sen. Dick Lugar and the man who unseated him in a bitter Republican primary, Richard Mourdock, have apparently buried the hatchet.”

Alex Bruns and Christina Bellantoni contributed to this report.

ON THE TRAIL

All events are listed in Eastern Time.

  • President Obama speaks at a campaign event in Mansfield, Ohio, at 11:40 a.m. and at another event in Akron, Ohio, at 3:55 p.m.

  • Mitt Romney has no public events scheduled.

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.