For the first time, Romney has hit 50% in an ABC News/Washington Post poll. He leads the president by three percentage points–similar to margins he has achieved in Gallup and Rasmussen. Further findings from the ABC News/Post poll bode especially well for Romney:
Romney’s gains are clear especially in results on the economy. This poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, finds that likely voters now pick Romney over Obama in trust to handle the economy by 52-43 percent – the first time either candidate has held a clear lead over the other on this central issue.
Equally important, Romney has erased Obama’s customary advantage on which candidate better understands the economic problems of average Americans. Today, 48 percent pick Obama, 46 percent Romney – essentially a dead heat. Yesterday and today mark the first time in the campaign that Obama hasn’t had at least a marginally significant lead on economic empathy.
Within-group trends on both these economic measures were covered inyesterday’s analysis; they reflect movement in Romney’s direction almost exclusively among white men, and particularly among less-educated white men.
SIGNALS – There are other signals of Romney’s gains. Expectations are one: Fifty-two percent of likely voters now expect Obama to win the election, down from a peak of 61 percent in late September. Forty percent expect Romney to win – still well fewer than half, but up by 8 percentage points.
Notably, political independents divide by 42-46 percent on whether they expect Obama or Romney to win; that’s shifted dramatically from 61-31 percent in Obama’s favor. Whites, likewise, have moved from a 55-38 percent expectation in Obama’s favor Sept. 29 to 44-48 percent now.
Romney is more competitive in another area, as well – international affairs. Even though likely voters by 2-1 picked Obama as the winner of Monday’s debate on foreign policy, comfort with Romney on the issue nonetheless has progressed. He runs essentially evenly with Obama in trust to handle international affairs, 48-47 percent, Obama-Romney; they were about this close on Monday, but it was +7 for Obama in mid-October and +8 in early September.
Chances are that if Barack Obama had beaten Romney in their first debate matchup, Romney would not be making the kinds of inroads he is making now, and the president would be cruising towards re-election. As it stands, the race still is very close, but ever since that first debate, Mitt Romney has had the momentum. And he hasn’t lost it yet.
I have certainly had my frustrations with the way in which Romney has run his campaign. Even if he wins, it will be the worst-run successful campaign of my lifetime. But Romney has shown genuine grit and determination in clawing his way back into contention. He may be wanting in certain campaign skills but those who dismissed him as a weak and hopeless candidate–and yes, at times that certainly included me–are rapidly and dramatically reappraising his skills as a politician.