President Obama has seen a boost in his job approval ratings in the past week as the nation has dealt with Superstorm Sandy and its aftermath. Meanwhile, Republican challenger Mitt Romney’s favorability has hit a rough patch following almost a month of gains.
The shifts come with the the election just days away and could mark a late turn in a campaign that has drawn on for two years.
Since Oct. 28, a national tracking poll by Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling has shown Obama’s job approval making a net gain of 6 percentage points. PPP is also the only national poll tracking a similar metric for Romney, his favorability rating, on a daily basis. During the same period, Romney’s favorability has dropped by a net 7 points.
Other daily tracking polls have also shown Obama making similar gains. Republican-leaning Rasmussen showed a 5-point net boost since its Monday poll. A daily ABC News/Washington Post poll has put Obama’s approval rating at 50 percent or above in nine of the 12 editions through Friday, and at 49 percent on the three other days.
While pollsters are cautious to point to any one reason for the shifts, the numbers happen to have moved at a time when Americans say they have a positive view of Obama’s handling of Sandy’s destruction. The storm ravaged the East Coast late Monday and early Tuesday and caused blackouts, flooding and gasoline shortages that have affected millions of people. The most recent poll, released Saturday by UPI, showed 77 percent of Americans surveyed said they had a positive take on Obama’s response to the storm.
Romney’s favorability ratings had a big boost after the first presidential debate in early October. But the PollTracker Average of the ratings shows his positive numbers appear to have leveled off in recent days while his negatives have started to rise. The effect is a net drop in his overall favorability.
While the personal ratings of both men are significant on a national scale, the election will of course be decided in crucial swing states. Their ratings in some of those states have also shown a tilt toward Obama in recent days.
In Ohio, as one example, President Obama’s approval rating had slipped in October after being above 50 percent in the PollTracker Average the previous month. But a diverse set of polls in recent days have all shown Obama’s approval rating hitting 50 percent or higher in the Buckeye State. The polls from New York Times/CBS, GOP-leaning Rasmussen, Democratic-leaning PPP, and NBC News/Marist have shown Obama making strong gains before Tuesday’s vote.
Romney’s image, meanwhile, improved in Ohio following the first debate, but the last three live caller polls in the state have shown he is viewed unfavorably by 48 percent of likely voters. Two of those polls were from the New York Times/CBS News and the third from the NBC News/Marist College partnership. Romney has been buoyed by Republican-leaning Rasmussen and partisan polls, improving his overall standing, but among the media-sponsored numbers, he is yet to bring the negative personal rating down further.
Both men’s images have made improvements in certain areas as Tuesday approaches, but just like the divide between the national polls and the Electoral College map, the state polls seem to be doing the president more good than the national push has been for Romney.
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.