Only six more months to go before the election and the polling is just beginning to round into shape. Keep in mind that most people are still not paying attention to the race and any polls are going to fluctuate between now and September when the race will begin in earnest.
Friday's jobs numbers have not yet been integrated into the polling, but I suspect that by Tuesday or Wednesday we'll have a good idea if they've had a significant effect on the race. As I see it, Obama has one more month's worth of data to stake a claim for enough of a recovery that will persuade people the economy is on the right track. If the numbers improve significantly in July and August that will help, but most voters will not pay attention over the summer.
Let's look at the numbers, shall we?
Obama Job Approval
These polls have tightened over the past month, with the aggregate numbers showing Obama with 47.8% approval and 47.7% disapproval. A look at the average indicates that Democracy Corps, Fox and CBS News/NY Times polls are probably outliers. The key numbers here are the ones that show Obama near 50% approval (Gallup and Rasmussen). Remember that in the fall, Obama was polling under 40% in some of the Gallup surveys and in the low 40s in Rasmussen. The improving economy is probably guiding the rise, but I suspect that the president's foreign affairs accomplishments are also helping him.
The latest tracking polls, Gallup and Rasmussen, have Obama at +1 and -1, respectively, and every other poll in the RCP average has the president either leading or the race tied.
It's interesting to note that neither campaign has done anything close to laying out a vision for what they're going to do if elected. The president will begin (I think) to do that this week with his campaign kickoff in Ohio and Virginia.
Meanwhile, Mitt Romney's campaign has been nothing but reactive and he's in real danger of allowing Obama to define him before he has a chance to introduce himself to American voters. He'll outlive some of the comments he made during the Republican primaries about hanging out with rich people and how Michigan's trees are just the right height. The problem is that these quotes are still part of the discussion and until Romney replaces them with his own slogan or vision for the future, they'll hand around. Attack politics does work, even though both campaigns will decry its use, but you can't win by only attacking your opponent. You have to say something, and neither candidate is doing that.
The latest RCP electoral map is here, and shows Obama with a 253-170 lead over Romney. I'm not as confident that Iowa and Missouri are toss-up states, so I've put them in the GOP column. I think that new polling will show the president to be losing in those two states.
The Huffington Post/Pollster electoral map made its debut on April 25 and shows Obama with a 298-170 lead, giving him Florida and Ohio, but leaving Virginia as a toss-up. That seems to contradict a new Quinnipiac poll that shows Romney ahead by 1 in Florida, and a Washington Post poll showing Obama with a +7 lead in Virginia.
Obama has a slight lead in Ohio, but as this analysis by electionate.com seems to indicate, the president is not polling as well there as he is nationally, and if Ohio is truly a bellwether, he'll need to improve his numbers.
Election Projection has the president with a 303-235 lead, but I think is somewhat optimistic.
Meanwhile, the Congressional Ballot is tied. Last month the GOP was up by 1.4%. Indiana is now a state of interest for the Democrats since it's likely that Richard Lugar is going to lose the Republican primary battle to Tea Party favorite and Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock. Democrat Joe Donnelly awaits the winner and could squeak by in an upset with an appeal to Indiana's more moderate voters.
That's it for now. Watch for updates here, at www.facebook.com/WhereDemocracyLives and on Twitter @rigrundfest