President Obama leads a new poll of swing states from Purple Strategies by 2 points over Mitt Romney overall, but Romney has taken a lead in crucial Florida and Ohio.
The poll confirms what has long been expected — a tight contest in which the redrawn political map will be a major factor. “This marks the first time since January that the candidates were within 2 points of each other in these critical purple states,” the pollsters wrote. “Despite still trailing, Mitt Romney has reached his highest vote total since our tracking began in September of 2011.”
The Purple Poll surveyed 2,000 voters in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. Obama led 48 percent to 44 percent in Purple Strategies’ April numbers.
But despite Romney’s gains, the electoral college map still presents challenges. Obama maintains leads in Virginia and Colorado, two states that could hand him re-election if he took them along with the historical contingent of blue states. Romney has improved elsewhere — he leads in the Purple Poll samples of Ohio and Florida — but even if he wins those two states and loses Virginia, he’d lose the election in almost all scenarios.
Romney’s favorability, which has seen an uptick in many national polls, remained stagnant among the swing state voters polled. “Mitt Romney is also having trouble connecting with voters,” Purple pollsters wrote. “Today, 39 percent of those surveyed had a favorable view of Romney, and 49 percent view him unfavorably. Among independents, the numbers are similar: 39 percent have a favorable view, 47 percent unfavorable.”
Though President Obama has met pushback on his critiques of Romney’s tenure at the private equity firm Bain Capital, including from Democrats, the numbers show the attacks are working.
“Overall, the Obama campaign position on private investment firms outperforms that of the Romney campaign: 47% believe that private investment firms hurt workers and cut jobs, while 38% believe that they foster economic growth and create jobs,” the firm wrote. “Across Purple States, this argument has the hallmarks of a classic wedge issue for the President: it consolidates Democrats (64% to 22%) and has a plurality of support among independents (48% to 38%).”
And the attack actually might work better in states where Obama is down: The poll showed that it resonated strongly within Ohio and Florida, and less so in Colorado in Virginia, where Obama led in the survey.
Still, the poll showed what has become a clear trend across most polling — Romney has made strides within his own party and independent voters, pulling the race closer as the campaign enters the summer. His numbers have improved dramatically since the depths of the Republican primary process.
The Purple Poll utilized 2,000 automated interviews with voters in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin, with an oversample of 600 voters each in Ohio, Florida, Colorado and Virginia from May 31 to June 6. The sampling error for the overall poll is 2 percent and 4 percent within the oversampled states.
Kyle is the Editor of TPM Media’s PollTracker. He graduated from Beloit College (WI) and began working in politics before getting an M.A. in magazine journalism from New York University, where he interned at TPM and the website of The New Yorker.