President Obama increasingly looks like a lock for another term in the White House —with his lead over Republican Mitt Romney widening in the must-win states of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, according to a new poll released Wednesday.
Obama leads the former Massachusetts governor 53 percent to 44 percent in Florida, 53 percent to 43 percent in Ohio, and 54 percent to 42 percent in Pennsylvania, according to a survey of likely voters by Quinnipiac University for the New York Times and CBS News.
Even if these results aren’t a death knell, it’s hard to interpret them as anything but a deafening fire alarm for the GOP nominee. Absentee voting starts in Ohio next Tuesday and 31 percent of the Buckeyes surveyed plan to cast their ballots ahead of the November 6 election day.
The findings are buttressed by a slew of troubling national polls about a race that is quickly slipping from Romney’s grasp, even though Americans largely support his view that government is juggling too many things better left to the private sector. Bloomberg News reported on Tuesday that Obama is up 49 percent to 43 percent.
Taken together, the results suggest the presidential race is boiling down to a popularity contest instead of a battle royale about an economy still wheezing from the Great Recession. Without Obama’s likability, Romney has strained to convince voters that they should trust his bare bones proposals on the budget and job creation.
Likely voters in all three states largely hold an “unfavorable” opinion of the Republican. Almost half of Floridians and Pennsylvanians believe his campaign is “deliberately misleading people,” and 54 percent of Ohioans conclude this is the case.
Despite the negative attack ads surrounding both campaigns, Romney has proven to be his own worst enemy. A new poll for ABC News/Washington Post found that voters objected to his comments at a closed-door May fundraiser about 47 percent of the country not paying income taxes.
“My job is not to worry about those people—I'll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives,” Romney said in a video of the even that was leaked last week to the liberal publication Mother Jones.
Romney tried to back-pedal, saying his “inelegant” statement applied to his campaign strategy rather than his governing philosophy. But the damage has been inflicted to his political ambitions—with 54 percent of independent voters viewing the comments negatively, according to the ABC News/Washington Post survey.
The question is whether Romney can close a gap in states like Ohio—where he is wrapping up a bus tour today—that is well beyond the margin of error in the most recent survey. His plan is to continue hammering Obama.
"This is a president who is bent on growing government,” Romney said Tuesday in Dayton. “I am bent on growing jobs and raising take-home pay."
Romney’s last chance for a turnaround will be the debates, the first of which is next Wednesday, October 3rd.