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Three More Battleground Polls Give Obama the Edge

President Obama; photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

President Obama campaigns Thursday in Virginia Beach. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

Friday may be a new day, but for the most part it’s the same old story when it comes to the latest batch of battleground state polls.

President Obama leads Mitt Romney by seven points, 51 percent to 44 percent, in New Hampshire, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist survey. The president also edges his GOP rival in Nevada (49 percent to 47 percent) and North Carolina (48 percent to 46 percent). Those contests are within the survey’s margin of error.

Still, that the president is running ahead of Romney in all three states means he has a clean sweep of the nine battleground contests surveyed by NBC/WSJ/Marist over the course of the past three weeks, with leads ranging from two to eight percentage points. The previous six states polled were Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin.

The president is viewed more favorably than Romney in New Hampshire, Nevada and North Carolina, and the percentage of voters who think the direction of the country has improved also moved upward in all three states.

In the New Hampshire, 44 percent of respondents said the country was heading in the right direction, while 51 percent said things were on the wrong track. That was a change from 37 percent to 57 percent in June.

The gains in North Carolina and Nevada, two battlegrounds with unemployment rates higher than the national average, were more modest. In the Tarheel State, 40 percent chose “right direction” compared to 55 percent for “wrong track,” up from 36 percent to 56 percent in June. The right track number in Nevada was up to 41 percent from 39 percent in May.

That the president is running ahead of Romney in states with much improved economic conditions such as Ohio and Virginia is not a huge surprise, but his lead in other battlegrounds where the recovery has not been as strong should be a concern to the Republican nominee, who has pitched himself to voters as someone best equipped to stage a turnaround. If Romney is unable to convince voters in those states that it’s in their best economic interest to cast their ballots for him, then his campaign’s prospects for a turnaround by Nov. 6 are in trouble.

See the paths for each White House hopeful yourself in our Vote 2012 Map Center.

PRE-DEBATE SPIN

The debate expectations-setting game began long ago, but each campaign is stepping it up as Wednesday’s meeting between Mr. Obama and Romney nears.

Romney has said he expects the president to say things that “aren’t accurate” when the two meet at the University of Denver for the first debate, which will be moderated by Jim Lehrer.

Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, David Axelrod, released a memo Friday knocking Romney for the comment, saying the Republican hasn’t kept to the truth himself over the course of the campaign. He also signaled that the president will go after his rival for his positions on the auto bailout, abortion, health care and tax cuts.

At the same time, he boosted the Republican nominee.

“[J]ust as he was in the primaries, we expect Mitt Romney to be a prepared, disciplined and aggressive debater,” Axelrod notes, adding that debates “generally favor challengers,” particularly since the challenger doesn’t have the “responsibilities of being the president” so has more time to prepare.

He closed with:

Americans have no doubt that Mitt Romney can ably attack the President. He’s spent the past year and a half doing it. But that hasn’t moved the needle on what has been a remarkably stable, close and competitive race. The true test of the first debate for most Americans will not be which candidate is best at fighting the other — it’s who will fight and deliver for them.

Read the memo in full here.

AD ALERT

NewsHour partner CMAG reports Friday on some super PAC ad spending totals, finding — surprise! — that there’s been an unprecedented spike in outside groups putting ads on the airwaves.

In total this cycle, outside groups have spent $135 million on more than 233,000 television spots, CMAG calculates. GOP groups account for about 89 percent of all outside group ad spending in the Obama-Romney race, while the partisan split in 2008 was basically even, according to CMAG’s Harley Ellenberger.

Ellenberger also found:

Almost 13 times as many airings have occurred in 2012 as in 2008, including a 28-fold increase in GOP-sponsored ad occurrences, with GOP groups accounting for 84% of all occurrences.

Groups have released more than twice as many unique ads in 2012 as in 2008, including a 52-ad spike by Republicans.

Tune in to the NewsHour next week to see the next report in our collaboration with NPR.

DAILY DOWNLOAD

On Thursday’s NewsHour, Judy Woodruff talked with Lauren Ashburn and Howard Kurtz of Daily-Download.com about how the campaigns are using online tools to push voters to the polls in the 35 states that allow early voting.

The Obama campaign is using advertising in online video games to draw young (and some not-so-young) gamers to the polls. The campaign is running ads inside Electronic Arts Inc. online and mobile video games, including one of the franchises’ most popular games, Madden NFL ’13, and in mobile games including Battleship, Tetris and Scrabble.

The Romney campaign is using the more traditional avenues of Facebook and Twitter, but it’s also relying on Google searches for “geotargeting” to reach voters in specific areas, based on searches.

For its part, Twitter is playing a big role in grassroots generated get-out-the-early-vote efforts. Kurtz noted that many average users are tweeting info about when, where and how to vote early.

Watch the segment here or below:

ON THE ROAD AGAIN …

NewsHour teams are in the battleground states this weekend working on pieces for next week.

So here’s a hearty #FollowFriday for @hari, @kpolantz and @abbruns in Iowa, and for @jeffreybrown, @elizsummers and @meenaganesan, who will be in North Carolina.

2012 LINE ITEMS

  • In Florida on Friday, Vice President Biden will go after the Republican ticket on Social Security and tax cuts for the wealthy. At the same time, Team Obama will launch an e-cards campaign asking young supporters “to send eCards to their parents and grandparents telling them exactly what seniors could lose as a result of Mitt Romney’s disastrous plan to raise taxes on Social Security benefits.”
  • Talking Points Memo posts a timeline detailing Romney’s changing tune on his Massachusetts health care plan.
  • GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan’s Medicare proposal is one reason for the shift in polls, the Washington Post finds.
  • Billionaire George Soros is giving $1 million to the pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA Action.

TOP TWEETS

OUTSIDE THE LINES

  • Even beer is getting political. National Journal looks at the breakdown of beer choice, political leanings and voter turnout. Check out this summary of the findings in a handy bubble chart.
  • The Kansas City Star’s Jason Hancock reports Missouri GOP Senate nominee Todd Akin is under fire again for saying Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill did not act “ladylike” during their recent debate.
  • Both the Washington Post and Roll Call move the Indiana Senate contest between Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly and Republican state Treasurer Richard Mourdock to tossup status. Mourdock defeated Sen. Richard Lugar in a spring primary.
  • Roll Call’s Daniel Newhauser tees up how women and freshmen are getting involved in the House GOP leadership races for next year.
  • Republicans will showcase for the first time a House candidate to give the weekly party address. That’s Vernon Parker, who is running in Arizona’s 9th district.
  • Politico’s Dave Levinthal writes that the NFL’s top labor union negotiator said political pressure helped end the lockout. Here is the NewsHour’s report.
  • The New York Times’ Jeremy Peters reports that an independent House candidate in Kentucky has unveiled a graphic new campaign ad likening the president to Hitler and Ted Bundy.
  • The online campaign fundraising site ActBlue on Thursday passed the $300 million donation mark, raising that much for Democratic candidates since 2004. It was Sept. 18, 2011, when the group hit $200 million. The average donation size is less than $50.
  • James Dao writes in the New York Times about the backlog of claims at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • Christina and several female political journalists were featured in a More Magazine fashion spread.

Tiffany Mullon contributed to this report.

ON THE TRAIL

All events are listed in Eastern Time.

  • Vice President Biden campaigns in Florida with events in Boca Raton at 12 p.m. and in Tamarac at 3:20 p.m.
  • Mitt Romney campaigns in Wayne, Pa., at 12:05 p.m.
  • Michelle Obama attends an event in Cedar Falls, Iowa, at 2:10 p.m. and another in Appleton, Wis., at 4:45 p.m.
  • President Obama attends a fundraiser in Washington, D.C., at 4:20 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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