A new round of swing state polls released Thursday shows President Barack Obama clinging to narrow leads in Florida and Wisconsin, while boasting a solid advantage in the crucial bellwether of Ohio.
According to a trio of polls from Quinnipiac University, CBS News and the New York Times, likely voters in all three states identify the economy and health care as the two most important issues. With the national economy still lagging and the president’s health care reform law receiving lukewarm public approval at best, Republicans have sought to bring down Obama politically on both fronts.
Thursday’s polls indicate Obama can overcome both purported liabilities — especially in Ohio, where he claims a 6-point edge over Mitt Romney, 50 percent to 44 percent. The Buckeye State has proven to be favorable terrain to Obama throughout the 2012 campaign, while Romney has struggled to gain traction there. The Quinnipiac/CBS/NYT poll shows the presumptive Republican nominee struggling to ingratiate himself with Ohio voters. Only 39 percent have a favorable view of Romney, compared with 45 percent who have an unfavorable view. Obama is viewed favorably by 51 percent of Ohio voters, while 45 percent have an unfavorable view of the president.
Obama has consistently led the PollTracker Average of Ohio, which shows him up by 3.2 percentage points.
Obama leads by 3 points in Florida, 49 percent to 46 percent — down from the 6-point edge he held in the Quinnipiac/CBS/NYT poll conducted in late July. Only 20 percent of Florida voters are more likely to support Romney following the addition of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to the Republican ticket, while 19 percent say they are less likely and 58 percent say it will make no difference.
In fact, roughly half of the likely voters sampled in all three states say that Romney’s selection of Ryan will not sway them one way or the other. Ryan gives the GOP challengers the most significant bump in his native Wisconsin, where 30 percent of voters say they are more likely to support Romney in light of the House Budget Committee chairman’s entrance in the race. Romney and Ryan have caught into Obama’s lead in the Badger State since the previous Quinnipiac/CBS/NYT poll there. The president now clings to a 2-point lead in Wisconsin, 49 percent to 47 percent. That’s a clear dip in support since the late July survey — before the Ryan pick — which showed Obama with a 6-point lead in Wisconsin.
Voters in all three states are sharply divided when it comes to the Affordable Care Act, the health care overhaul passed by congressional Democrats and signed into law by Obama. Despite that polarization, Obama has an advantage over Romney on the issue. At least 50 percent of voters in Ohio, Florida and Wisconsin believe Obama would do a better job than Romney on the issue of health care. On the issue cited as the most important in all three states — the economy — Romney has the edge in Florida and Wisconsin. Voters in Ohio are divided over which candidate would do a better job on the economy.
Faculty at Quinnipiac University conducted the polls Aug. 15-21 using live telephone interviews with 1,241 likely voters in Florida, 1,253 likely voters in Ohio and likely voters 1,190 in Wisconsin. The margin of error for each sample is 2.8 percentage points.
Tom Kludt is a newswriter for TPM. A former research intern and polling fellow for TPM, he lives and works in New York City. Tom graduated summa cum laude from the University of South Dakota in May of 2010 with a B.A. in Political Science and History. He can be reached at Tom (at) talkingpointsmemo.com.