The latest Purple Poll, a survey of key swing states conducted for a bipartisan political consulting firm, shows a close, stable presidential race with a fairly small pool of undecided voters. It also suggests, not surprisingly, that the voters who will decide this election don’t much like either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney.
Across the 12 purple states, Obama leads Romney by a razor-thin 47 percent to 45 percent. That’s unchanged from June and within the margin of error. Romney has a 5-point lead among these states’ independents. He leads among men by 8 points but trails Obama among women by 11 points. The percentage of voters who say that the economy is getting worse is up to 42 percent. The pollsters found that this is an even bigger predictor of how people will vote than party identification: swing staters who thought the economy was getting better broke 93 percent to 4 percent for Obama, those who thought it was getting worse prefer Romney 84 percent to 7 percent.
In individual states, Ohio has swung narrowly back to Obama, Romney leads in Florida, and both Colorado and Virginia are very tight. All states are within the margin of error, Obama is below 50 percent in every one of them. While everyone is talking about the Romney campaign’s struggles answering the Bain questions, it bears watching whether this controversy actually moves the needle in any of these states.
The poll also reveals a split on the two fundamental questions of this election: whether Obama is a failed president or Romney is too out of touch to succeed him. Purple state voters as a whole split 44 percent each on which statement they agreed with most, but there was variation among the several states. In Florida, 50 percent say Obama is a failure, 41 percent say Romney is too out of touch, and 9 percent aren’t sure. In Ohio, 46 percent say Romney is too out of touch, 45 percent say Obama is a failure, and 9 percent aren’t sure.
This very similar to the breakdown on who would do better improving the economy and jobs outlook. In Florida, 50 percent say Obama is unable to improve the economy, 40 percent say Romney can’t do any better, and 10 percent aren’t sure. But in Ohio, 46 percent say Romney won’t do better than Obama, 45 percent say Obama can’t improve the economy, and 9 percent aren’t sure.
In the final analysis, these numbers contain a lot of good and bad news for both candidates while painting a picture of a deeply polarized, unhappy electorate.
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