A comparison of recent polls in Ohio, Michigan, and Virginia with 2008 polling shows that voters who supported President Obama last time are starting to come back home to him in 2012.
The Quinnipac Poll revealed a five point jump for President Obama over the past month in the state. In December, Romney narrowly led Obama 44%-42%. In the past month the Republican frontrunner (sort of) has gained one point in the state while Obama swung into the lead. The partisan split in the vote is high. Eighty five percent of Republicans support Romney and ninety three percent of Democrats support Obama, but the big shift towards Obama has been with two groups of voters.
While Romney has stayed at a flat 41%, President Obama gained four points and now leads with Independents, 45%-41%. The biggest swing for Obama has come with women. Romney led Obama among women, 45%-43% in December, but this month the president gained seven points, while Romney lost two, and took a 52%-40% lead.
The race in Virginia between Obama and Romney is starting to look a lot like the 2008 battle for the state between Obama and McCain. Days before the 2008 election Obama led McCain 50%-46%. Obama led McCain with women, 53%-44%. Currently, Obama leads Romney with women 52%-40%. In 2008, McCain led with white voters 57%-40%. In 2012, Romney has improved on McCain’s support with white voters by one point, 54%-36%. Obama’s support among African-Americans in the state has actually grown three points since 2008. Obama has gone from 88% support to 91% support. In 2008, McCain led Obama with 45%-44% Independents, while Obama leads Romney 45%-41% with this same category.
In Michigan Obama’s lead over Romney (48%-40%) is much smaller than his lead over McCain was (55%-37%), but the trend with Independents is the same. In the weeks before the 2008 election in Michigan, President Obama led with Independents, 52%-35%. In 2012, Obama has rebounded in the past month to hold a 42%-32% lead with Independents over Mitt Romney. In Ohio some of the same trends are just beginning to emerge as Obama went from a two point lead over Romney (44%-42%) in mid-January to a seven point lead by early February (49%-42%).
Whether it is in Ohio, Michigan, or Virginia, the 2012 race between Obama and Romney is starting to look a lot like the 2008 contest between Obama and McCain. Republicans need a nominee who can shift Independents into their column, and improve upon McCain’s performance with young voters and women. Instead, what they may end up with is a weaker version of John McCain.
The combination of an improving economy, a bruising Republican primary, and Mitt Romney’s own lack of appeal as a candidate have likely all contributed to Obama’s turn around. It is only February, but this is a trend that bears watching. If 2012 state level polling data continues to mirror 2008, then President Obama should face very little difficulty winning a second term.