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Obama Leads Romney in New Polls of Battleground States

President Obama; photo by Chris Schneider/Getty Images

President Obama shakes hands after speaking at a campaign event Thursday in Golden, Colo. Photo by Chris Schneider/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

President Obama has mocked Mitt Romney’s tax plan as “bad math” on the campaign trail. Those same words could also be used to describe the Republican nominee’s electoral college outlook based on three new battleground state polls.

The NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist surveys released Thursday show the president leading Romney in Florida, Ohio and Virginia, three states critical to both candidates in November.

The margin in both Florida and Virginia is the same, with the president running ahead of Romney by five points, 49 percent to 44 percent.

In Ohio, Mr. Obama holds a seven-point lead, 50 percent to 43 percent.

Ohio voters also gave the president a four-point advantage, 48 percent to 44 percent, when it comes to the question of which candidate would do a better job handling the economy. Voters in Florida and Virginia, meanwhile, were essentially split between the two candidates.

When it comes to foreign policy, however, the president is the clear favorite. He leads Romney by 13 points in Ohio (52 percent to 39 percent), 11 points in Virginia (50-39) and 10 points in Florida (51-41).

The president won all three states four years ago, aS so did George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004. Looking at the electoral college map, it’s difficult to see how Romney could win the presidency without scoring victories in at least two of these three battlegrounds.

Even if Romney managed to sweep all three, he would still need to win another tossup state from the group of Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and Wisconsin.

The latest WMUR Granite State poll released Thursday gave the president a five-point lead among likely voters in New Hampshire, 45 percent to 40 percent. Twelve percent of voters were undecided, however, a jump from just 4 percent in the survey taken last month.

Another survey by Onsight Public Affairs and Project New America in Colorado also had the president running ahead of Romney by five points, 49 percent to 44 percent.

With just nine states seemingly up for grabs, Romney must start turning some of these trend lines around, otherwise the path to 270 electoral college votes could go from daunting to pretty much impossible.

Game out the scenarios yourself in our Vote 2012 Map Center.


Labor group SEIU began airing a tough new anti-Romney spot in the Denver market this week. The ad, which you can watch here or below, features voters going after Romney in Spanish and saying they can’t pick him this November.

It includes an out-of-context clip of Romney from last winter saying he doesn’t care about the very poor (context here) and his remarks on the DREAM Act, describes layoffs made at companies taken over by Bain Capital and asks in Spanish, “What kind of values are these?”

NewsHour partner CMAG points out that for the first time in recent history, Pennsylvania and Missouri are looking to be non-factors in a presidential contest. Mitchell West notes that pro-Obama Priorities USA Action and pro-Romney Restore Our Future and Americans for Prosperity have pulled their ads off the airwaves in the Keystone State.

But Wisconsin is getting increasing attention. The president’s team began running older ads on Wisconsin airwaves Thursday: one on Romney’s abortion position, the to-the-camera spot in which he contrasts himself with Romney and one attacking Romney for paying a lower tax rate than the average American. Romney also is up with television spots on the deficit.

Speaking of the air war, CMAG did the math and found that “viewers in a sampling of politically crucial markets already are seeing anywhere from three to 12 times the number of presidential ads from recent cycles.”

The highlights from a pre-convention week in August? 1,842 presidential ads aired in Columbus, Ohio — three times the 608 presidential ad occurrences that aired there during the same week eight years ago; 2,870 ads aired in Las Vegas market, a more than threefold increase from 867 in 2004; and 1,863 ads aired in Orlando, Fla., a 12-fold increase from 153 ads just four years ago.

Here’s a chart comparing the spots over the two cycles, made by Harley Ellenberger.

Speaking of ads, the New York Times finds that “players in the oil, gas and coal industries are financing an aggressive effort to defeat” the president.


On Thursday’s NewsHour, Margaret Warner talked with Lauren Ashburn and Howard Kurtz of Daily-Download.com about how the campaigns are using online tools to boost voter engagement in tangible ways.

They discussed the Facebook study we linked to Thursday and how operatives used livestreaming during the convention to tell their version of that story.

Ashburn noted something that happened when the president did a chat on Reddit last month.

He put in there a link there to gotta — what is it, gottaregister.com. And within 24 hours, 25,000 people had registered to vote.

Watch the segment here or below:


  • A new New York Times/CBS News poll released Friday shows the president leading Romney nationally among likely voters, 49 percent to 46 percent.
  • Gwen Ifill gives her take on how the attacks in Benghazi, Libya, and Sanaa, Yemen, played out on the campaign trail this week. “Fresh off a pair of political conventions that were designed to blast the candidates into the fall campaign with a burst of enthusiasm, the nominees were reminded that the best-laid plans often fall victim to world events,” Ifill writes.
  • Team Romney released a television ad titled “Failing American Workers.”
  • Team Obama crafts yet another web video on Romney’s taxes. And another.
  • Reporter-producer Cassie M. Chew talked with voters Thursday at Romney’s rally in Northern Virginia.
  • Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who has advised the Romney campaign, said Thursday that state officials “were considering removing President Barack Obama from the Kansas ballot this November … they said they lacked sufficient evidence about his birth certificate.”
  • Politico’s Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei report that “if reelected, the president would surround himself with a retooled senior staff and Cabinet consisting largely of familiar faces and political insiders, plus at least one outsider to tend to the disgruntled business community.”
  • The president is winning the Halloween mask contest.



  • Judy Woodruff spends some time watching New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and finds he’s a voice in the center.
  • Virginia Senate candidate Tim Kaine’s “I approve this message” comes from a helicopter.
  • Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has endorsed Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli in the state’s 2013 GOP gubernatorial primary contest.
  • Online politics production assistant Meena Ganesan attended a briefing by Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel, who said he’s confident of his party’s chances because of GOP vice presidential candiate Paul Ryan’s budget plan. The Hill writes about Rep. Ryan’s “hero’s welcome” Thursday on the Hill.
  • Bethesda Magazine profiles political analysts Stu Rothenberg and Charlie Cook, noticing they are perhaps an odd couple, but each is highly influential.
  • Senate Democrats huddled with leaders in the gay and lesbian movement, BuzzFeed’s Chris Geidner reports.


All events are listed in Eastern Time.

  • President Obama welcomes the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic teams to the White House at 10:05 a.m. and attends a fundraiser in Washington, D.C., at 7 p.m.
  • Paul Ryan speaks at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., at 10:30 a.m. and attends a campaign event in Harrisonburg, Va., at 3:15 p.m.
  • Jill Biden attends three campaign events in Minnesota, beginning in Brooklyn Park at 1 p.m.
  • Michelle Obama attends a fundraiser in Washington, D.C., at 1:35 p.m.
  • Mitt Romney attends a campaign event in Painesville, Ohio, at 3:05 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, @tiffanymullon, @dePeystah, @meenaganesan and @abbruns.

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