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New Wave of Polls Gives Obama the Advantage

President Obama; photo by John Paul Filo/CBS via Getty Images

President Obama talks with David Letterman during a taped appearance that aired Tuesday night. Photo by John Paul Filo/CBS via Getty Images.

The Morning Line

Whether you take the national view or go state-by-state, the polls all seem to show the same thing: President Obama has the advantage over Mitt Romney 48 days from Election Day.

The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Tuesday showed the president leading nationally among likely voters, 50 percent to 45 percent. It’s the first time he has hit 50 percent in the survey since March.

The president had closed the gap with Romney on the question of which candidate would do a better job of handling the economy, with the two men now tied at 43 percent. The Republican presidential nominee held a six-point lead on that measure in July.

At the same time, views about the economy also improved. Forty-two percent of Americans said they think the economy will get better in the next 12 months, a six-point uptick since last month, while 18 percent responded they expected it to get worse. About a third of respondents said the economy would stay about the same.

The president also appeared to be in better shape in the battleground states that will ultimately decide the fall campaign.

A batch of swing-state surveys released Wednesday by Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News showed the president with a six-point lead in Wisconsin (51 percent to 45 percent), a four-point advantage in Virginia (50-46) and a narrow edge in Colorado (48-47).

The president’s standing in those three states was bolstered by the fact he has erased Romney’s advantage on handling of the economy. The GOP hopeful had a 10-point lead on the issue in Colorado last month, but he is now up by a single point, 48 percent to 47 percent. The president holds narrow leads of 49 percent to 47 percent in Virginia and 49 percent to 46 percent in Wisconsin.

A Washington Post poll of Virginia voters found the president with an eight-point spread on Romney, 52 percent to 44 percent. Along with Florida and Ohio, Virginia is high on the list of states Romney needs to turn red if he is to get to 270 electoral votes on Nov. 6.

USA Today and Gallup surveyed a dozen battleground states and found the president had a 48 percent to 46 percent advantage among likely voters, well within the poll’s margin of error and a point closer than a month ago. The survey showed the race even tighter nationally, with the president ahead 47 percent to 46 percent.

The one thing all these surveys have in common is that they were taken before the release of secret video that showed Romney making comments earlier this year at a private fundraiser, where he dismissed the president’s supporters as “dependent on government” and unwilling to “taking personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

While the full impact of the comments remains to be seen, it’s clear the president and his re-election team plan to make Romney pay a political price for his statements.

Mr. Obama made his first remarks on Romney’s comments to David Letterman on Tuesday night. He pointedly needled his rival for saying that 47 percent of Americans would not vote for the Republican.

“I can tell you this. When I won in 2008, 47 percent of the American people voted for John McCain,” Mr. Obama said. “They didn’t vote for me. What I said on election night was even though you didn’t vote for me, I hear your voices and I’m going as work as hard as I can to be your president. One of the things I’ve learned as president is you represent the entire country. And when I meet Republicans as I’m traveling around the country, they are hardworking family people who care deeply about this country. And my expectation is if you want to be president you’ve got to work for everybody, not just for some.”

For his part, Romney tried to change the subject Tuesday, pointing to comments posted on the conservative website The Drudge Report of Mr. Obama saying at a 1998 conference that he believes in “redistribution.”

“The president’s view is one of larger government, there’s a tape that came out today where the president’s saying he likes redistribution,” Romney told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto. “I think a society based upon a government centered nation where government plays a larger and larger role, redistributes money, that’s the wrong course for America,” he added.

Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades penned a public memo Wednesday saying the race now is “sharply defined” by two different view points.

On Tuesday’s NewsHour, Gwen Ifill talked with Tax Policy Center’s Roberton Williams and National Journal’s Nancy Cook to get at the truth behind Romney’s tax claim. They examined how many people pay income and other taxes.

“They’re not paying nothing at all, they’re just not paying income tax,” Williams said.

Cook broke down the numbers and offered analysis that “this is really an argument that plays to the base.”

Watch the segment here or below:

Journalist Bob Woodward had some harsh words for Romney, as well, in an interview Tuesday with Judy Woodruff about his new book. The NewsHour posted an excerpt of that conversation, which will air later this week.

Watch here or below:

And what about the video itself? Fortune Magazine was the first to talk with executive Marc Leder, who hosted the May fundraiser in Boca Raton, Fla., captured on tape.

The Washington Post detailed how Mother Jones pursued the story and the interesting way the months-old video saw the light of day. Politico notes that Florida’s privacy rules guiding when someone can be recorded suggest the Romney video “may have been illegal.”

Priorities USA has spliced the footage into a new television ad. “Mitt Romney will never convince us he’s on our side,” the narrator says. The pro-Obama super PAC says it will run the spot in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin.


Richmond, Va.-area residents on Tuesday started to see a new spot from American Crossroads focused on small business owners, according to data from NewsHour partner CMAG.

“Obama has made a lot of bad decisions,” a man says in the ad. “If he has four more years, I don’t think we’re going to want to see what that looks like.”

Watch it here or below.

The president’s campaign is airing a Bain-focused ad in Youngstown, Ohio, noting, “Mitt Romney isn’t the solution, he’s the problem.” It is similar to other spots on the topic but had not been publicly released.

This anti-Romney ad that the Obama campaign released Tuesday afternoon had already starting running in Denver.


NewsHour’s Ray Suarez went to Las Vegas to get a sense of how the mortgage crisis there is affecting the presidential election. Battleground-state voters were mixed on whether the president’s policies have helped, but it’s clear the issue is driving people to the polls on both sides.

Watch Ray’s report here or below.


The president’s campaign is launching a new effort Wednesday aimed at engaging voters between 18 and 29. The campaign is asking young supporters to post photos that illustrate its “For All” push.

And what is that push exactly? It’s run through the campaign’s Instagram account and asks under-30 voters to “1) write on your hand what progress means to you, 2) put your hand over your heart for a quick smartphone photo, and 3) share it using the hashtag: #forall.”

The campaign will enlist the help of celebrity supporters (remember Scarlett Johansson at the convention?) to connect the dots on policy issues as well. Jessica Alba is featured for the kick-off, with her hands showing the words “equal pay” and “right to choose.”

There’s also a radio ad you can listen to here or below.


  • Are you an undecided voter living in Orlando or Tampa, Fla.? Let us know here and you might be selected to participate in a conversation with Ray Suarez following the first presidential debate.
  • The Wall Street Journal confirms that Romney was facing “a cash crunch ahead of last month’s Republican National Convention and had to borrow money to continue funding the campaign.” The loan was for $20 million.
  • The Pennsylvania Supreme Court didn’t give finality to the state’s controversial voter ID law. It instead kept the law open to an injunction that may be set by a lower court next month. Here’s the full ruling and a detailed assesment on what the law may mean from ProPublica. NewsHour’s Cassie M. Chew reported from Philadelphia after attending a debate on the topic starring former Gov. Ed Rendell.
  • One GQ writer outlines the steps to a post-“47-percent” Romney comeback.
  • Politico reports that a federal appeals court on Tuesday “overturned a lower court decision that could have forced the disclosure of the donors behind some of the secret money groups flooding the airwaves with attack ads.”
  • The Romney campaign released an ad Wednesday attacking the president on coal.



  • NewsHour’s Jeffrey Brown talked to Kofi Annan in New York about promoting peace and his new book as he marks 40 years at the United Nations. Watch their discussion here.
  • Nate Silver over at Five-Thirty-Eight released his first official Senate forecast. In the forecast, he gives the Democrats a 70 percent chance of maintaining its majority.
  • Roll Call’s Daniel Newhauser and Kate Ackley report Wednesday that the White House and Congressional Democrats are trying to squash GOP efforts to tackle an immigration reform issue: visas for high-skilled workers.
  • The Massachusetts Senate race is looking better and better for challenger Elizabeth Warren. Four new polls have been released over the past few days, with the latest, from our public radio friends over at WBUR, showing Warren up 5 points over incumbent Sen. Scott Brown. The RCP average for the race now shows Warren leading by 4 percent.
  • Who’s that female supporter referred to on Rep. Todd Akin’s website? Why, it’s his tracker from the Democratic Party.
  • Tim Tebow may run for office someday.
  • BuzzFeed’s John Stanton catches that Rep. Mary Bono Mack, R-Calif., is advertising the naming of a post office as a legislative achievement for her re-election campaign.
  • The County Board in Arlington, Va., passed a resolution calling for a Constitutional amendment to reverse the Citizens United decision.
  • There could be a truce in the chicken wars.

Katelyn Polantz and Alex Bruns contributed to this report.


All events are listed in Eastern Time.

  • Paul Ryan attends a rally in Danville, Va., at 9:30 a.m.
  • Michelle Obama campaigns in North Carolina with events in Durham at 1:40 p.m. and Greenville at 5:45 p.m.
  • Mitt Romney tapes an appearance on Univision at 6 p.m. and attends a rally in Miami at 8:55 p.m.
  • Vice President Biden and Jill Biden host a reception with emerging leaders of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community at the Naval Observatory at 6 p.m.
  • President Obama is at the White House with 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.

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