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Presidential Update: Lead, Obama. Momentum, Obama.

[iframe src=””]With four months to go before the election, and two months before the “real” campaign starts after Labor Day, polling on the presidential election continues work better as a national mood indicator than as a way to predict what will happen next November.

That said, it’s clear the presidential race has changed since the last time we looked at the state of the race. From February through earlier in June, Governor Romney steadily gained ground in the polls. President Obama remained in the lead, but little by little the challenger seemed to be chipping away.

The last few weeks have seen that change. In the RealClearPolitics “poll of polls” that we use here at Via Meadia to take our periodic soundings of the presidential race, President Obama has surged ahead recently, making up most of the lost ground. Obama’s June surge, translated into the national vote, would be enough to flip Ohio back from the GOP to the Democrat column in November, widening the President’s electoral lead.

There are several possible reasons why, despite a continuing spate of discouraging economic news, this might be so. One is that much of Governor Romney’s progress probably came from Republicans coming “home” as it became clear that Governor Romney would be the nominee. Another could be the success that President Obama has had in painting the former business executive as a representative of the less popular aspects of American capitalism. We also note that even as other economic indicators have performed poorly, gas prices have been drifting gently down in recent weeks, and for many Americans that may be the economic indicator to which they pay the closest attention.It may also be worth noting that the average includes one “rogue” poll; a Bloomberg poll that gave the President a 13 point advantage. Without that poll, the President’s recovery would be less dramatic, though it would still be real.

One theory can be ruled out: this is not about the reaction to the Supreme Court ruling that upheld Obamacare. The polls in our “poll of polls” date for the most part from before the decision.

This remains a very close race, and it is likely that momentum will shift more than once between now and November. But there is no getting around what these numbers tell us: President Obama had a very good June.

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  • Anthony

    “…close races are just that: close races…this race will be close. Obama has a high floor, meaning that he has a fervent base of support. He also has a low ceiling, meaning that he has large and adamant opposition.” Charlie Cook

  • Anthony

    Continuation of above comment: Charlie Cook at National Journal provides related context to WRM’s Presidential Update.

  • Felipe Pait

    If you really think that gas prices is the economic indicator Americans pay closest attention to, then your opinion of Americans is a lot lower than mine. Trouble is, you may be right.

  • Tim

    Polls of registered voters, any other biases or methodological flaws aside, favor democrat candidates. The RCP average of likely voters shows Romney ahead in OH and VA, tied in IA, and within a 3.5% margin of error in MI and WI.

    Romney has a great challenge to defeat an incumbent president, but I challenge the notion that Obama has established positive momentum. If the Obama campaign’s polling numbers showed him doing well he would not be swinging for the progressive fences on gay marriage, immigration, and (I predict) on legalizing marijuana, forgiving student loans, and a new initiative on mortgages.

  • thibaud

    I submit that gas prices are not determinative and that any short-term “movement” in poll numbers correlated with same are noise.

    The longer-term, underlying narrative remains intact: America, like most western democracies, is a deeply troubled nation in which a large portion of the electorate can fairly said to be EXHAUSTED. It’s been a very rough five-six years. War, actually two unfinished wars, plus plunging house prices ie falling net worth ie diminishing retirement prospects, has been a kick in the gut for millions of Americans.

    When people are 1) exhausted and 2) nervous about the future and 3) listening to confusing, noise-full and often irrelevant narratives from the political elite, they will behave in unpredictable ways.

    I submit that this election will turn on which fear turns out to be the greater: fear of more sideways / meandering movement under a listless and semi-competent incumbent, or fear of an unprincipled, spineless challenger who runs the risk of being overruled by a radical band of cynical zealots.

    FUD vs FUD: Fear uncertainty and doubt vs. fear uncertainty and doubt.

    This will come down to the relative political skills and ruthlessness of the two campaign teams.

    That said, I would not bet against Team Obama.

  • Susan

    Perhaps Obama’s momentum will subside after doctors advise their patients that they are retiring if Obamacare remains intact.

    Everyone is talking about their healthcare demands yet none want to talk about who will supply such demand.

    Insurance-free or otherwise-does not provide health care.

    Perhaps Via Meadia might have interest in addressing the perplexing question:

    What value is free health insurance if there are no doctors?

  • Greg in Denver

    As part of the ongoing “in kind contributions” of the dominant media, the polls that are being considered here have terrible methodologies. Dems are consistently over-sampled vs. Reps and Independants are also under-sampled.

    It is corrupt, mendacious and purposeful. When Mr. Obama said he will get 1 billion in fundraising, he should have said 1.5 billion because NBC/CBS/ABC/NPR/PBS, et. al. add literally hundreds of millions of dollars in boosterism “in kind contributions”.

    I am just happy that Dems tend not to be thoughtful enough to correct their own thinking when considering these skewed polls. It was not “a good month for Obama”, it was a terrible month – look at him in public, he knows his own internal polling, he looks like a man in dread.

    Please, please Mr. Mead, truth in polling…

  • David Taylor, MD

    @6 Susan — Perhaps I have misunderstood the details of Obamacare, which I took to guarantee medical insurance, not medical care. I am a cardiologist with a full panel of patients, and as far as I am aware I am under no obligation to accept more patients simply because those would-be patients suddenly have insurance. Perhaps you could connect the dots for those of us who are too dense to see this: why would an increase in the number of insured people lead me to want to retire? My naive assumption is that the “market” would work the other way: increase demand for my services would let me increase my prices — especially if I set up a boutique practice!

  • John Burke

    I’ve been critical of Mead’s map before and still am. While the RCP average is a convenient tool, applying it automatically without thoughtful anaysis is foolish and misleading. The current average is skewed toward Obama by the manifestly ludicrous recent Bloomberg survey which had Obama ahead by 13 points and well above 50 percent! If you remove this obvious outlier, the average of the rest of the polls has not changed notably over the past month (or longer). It remains a virtual tie with Obama ahead by a couple of points but well under 50 percent. Therefore, to suggest that Obama “has surged ahead recently” is without foundation.

  • http://None Glenn Osbourne

    President Obama WILL win this election! Mark your calendars. July 3, 2012 I say Obama Wins!

    Read it, say it, believe it. Obama will win!!

  • John Burke

    Well, lookee here. As of yesterday, the RCP average dropped sharply because RCP no longer included that Bloomberg joke poll with Obama ahead by 13 points. The new average has Obama slightly farther ahead than when Mead last updated his map, but not by enough to spit at. The race is unchanged.

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