Mitt Romney has pulled ahead of Barack Obama in Iowa and New Hampshire, destroying the president’s once -decisive lead in two key battleground states, according to a new poll from the left-leaning Public Policy Polling. The poll, released Thursday afternoon, finds Romney edging out Obama 49% to 48% among likely voters in both states. That’s a massive decline for the president, who was beating Romney 51-44 in Iowa and 51-43 in New Hampshire in previous polls.
The swing to Romney is much more pronounced than it has been in national polls, most of which have Obama and Romney in a virtual dead heat. But the PPP release points out that this is actually not surprising, and reflects the president’s fall among white voters, who make up most of the population in Iowa and New Hampshire.
According to the polls, Romney’s gains are largely driven by his huge advantage on the question of which candidate would better handle the economy. Voters now prefer Romney over Obama on the issue, 52% to 45% in New Hampshire and 49% to 45% in Iowa.
The Republican nominee’s favorability rating has also skyrocketed in both states — up 15 points in Iowa and 10 in New Hampshire — while Obama’s approval numbers dropped, from 49-48 per cent in both states to 47-46 in New Hampshire, and 49-44 in Iowa.
There is a silver lining for Obama, though. The president has a huge lead among early voters in Iowa — who make up 31% of the electorate — and is up among independent voters in both states.
Moreover, in Iowa, recent polling has been far from definitive. Another Iowa poll, released by NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist Thursday night, finds Obama up eight points among likely voters in Iowa, 51% to 43%. That result was essentially unchanged from last month, indicating that, unlike in other states, Obama’s poor performance in the first debate had little effect on his standing in the state.
The NBC/WSJ/Marist survey also found the race unchanged in Wisconsin, a new battleground state where Obama leads Romney 51% to 45% among those surveyed. But those results are significantly different from a Marquette University survey released Wednesday, which found Romney edging out Obama among likely Wisconsin voters, 49% to 48%.
All told, it’s hard to say what we should make of these numbers, except that neither candidate has these states — or the race — in the bag yet.
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