Fans of the blog already know that on the 6th of every month I take a look at the polling for the 2012 presidential election. This month is like Christmas and Hanukkah falling on the same day because today is also Super Tuesday, so I've combined the two into one mega look at the race. No, it doesn't get any better than this.
Obama Job Approval
February was a "what goes around comes around" month. President Obama saw a steady rise in his approval ratings through mid-February, due in large part to the improving economy and the viciousness of the GOP primaries. For the last 10 days, though, he's come back to earth a bit. The latest RealClearPolitics Index of his job approval is here. His approval rose from 46.6% to 48.1% and his disapproval numbers also rose slightly from 47.6% to 48%. There seem to be two outliers in the Index: The Rasmussen Daily Tracking, which at one time had Obama +4, now has him at -9, and the Politico/GWU Battleground, which has him +8. Take those two out and smooth the remaining numbers and you have a net plus for the president since February 6.
I suppose you could read the numbers two ways. In one interpretation, he is steadily climbing as he campaigns and runs ads, while in the other he's in trouble because after 3 years, he still can't claim a majority of the voters as approving of his performance. Allan Lichtman was sure about Obama's reelection as far back as two years ago. We'll see if he turns out to be right.
My assumption is that Mitt Romney is going to be the Republican nominee, because he's really their only hope. With that in mind, here are the latest numbers in that match-up showing Obama with an overall 49.1%-44.4% lead. This is an improvement over February when his lead was 2%.
The only change in the Electoral College map is that Wisconsin has been moved into Obama's column because of his +10 lead in the latest PPP poll, giving him a lead in states that add up to 227 electoral votes with the Republican at 181. Electionprojection.com has Obama winning 285 electoral votes this year according to their model. We'll follow them throughout the campaign.
The latest NBC News/Marist poll has Obama beating Romney in both Virginia (+17) and Ohio (+12). If these numbers hold, there are very few scenarios for a Romney victory. If Obama wins Ohio, the assumption is that he'll win Pennsylvania. Even if Romney wins Florida and North Carolina, that's not enough. At this point, I would say that NBC's numbers are a bit optimistic for the Obama campaign. Stay tuned.
Republicans now lead the Generic Congressional Ballot by. 0.2%, but that was before Olympia Snowe announced her retirement from the Senate. The Congressional numbers will fluctuate throughout the spring. When we get definite candidates for each race, it should come into sharper focus.
No matter how you slice it, this was a terrible week for the Republican candidates, the party and its message. The fallout from Michigan showed that Mitt Romney's popularity took a hit. From the article:
The latest ABC/Washington Post Poll gives him a favorability of 33% and an unfavorability of 46%; a recent Politico poll puts his unfavorability above 50%.
Then of course there was the distraction of Rush Limbaugh's remarks about Sandra Fluke, the ongoing debate about the contraception issue, which lost a Senate vote, Olympia Snowe's retirement announcement, and the advancement of marriage equality bills in Maryland and Washington. This allowed President Obama to take the high road and appear presidential, which is the last thing the Republicans looked like.
So let's get to the skinny.
It's all come down to the delegate count now as Mitt tries to push his way to the magic number of 1,145. He'll pick up a bundle on Tuesday and will separate himself from the field. I have a suspicion that if he does very well (defined below), GOP operatives will ask Santorum and Gingrich to step aside for the good of the party. Since neither one knows what that is, they might stay in the race.
Here's a link to the states holding elections and the delegates at stake. Here's my take on what will happen:
Gingrich wins Georgia. No surprise, doesn't matter. Extra good day if he also wins Oklahoma and/or Tennessee.
Paul wins Alaska and Idaho.
Santorum wins Oklahoma and Tennessee (barely). If he doesn't, goodbye.
Romney wins Virginia (the other two aren't on the ballot, and neither is Rick Perry), Massachusetts, and Vermont. If he can pick off any of Alaska, Idaho or North Dakota, a good night. Tennessee or Oklahoma, a great night. Ohio, a super night. All of the above, lights out.
Which brings us to Ohio. This is the key to today. If Santorum wins, he can damage Romney even more and claim that, since he'll win Pennsylvania, he should be the nominee (he won't be). A Romney win ends the game.
Romney wins it sooner rather than later. GOP elites breathe easier. You can follow me at:
www.facebook.com/WhereDemocracyLives and Twitter @rigrundfest