The latest Gallup polling shows Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney each trailing President Obama by exactly the same tally — 50 to 48 percent. Across the months, Gallup has shown a slow decline in Romney’s level of support versus Obama: Romney led Obama by 2 percentage points in September, was tied in late October, trailed by 1 point in early December, and now trails by 2 points. Gallup hasn’t taken nearly so many polls on Gingrich versus Obama, but it showed Gingrich trailing Obama by 6 points in early December and now shows him trailing by 2 points. (It’s unclear whether any portion of Gallup’s latest polling was conducted after Gingrich’s win in South Carolina on Saturday.)
It’s perhaps a mild piece of good news for Obama that he’s currently edging both leading Republican contenders, but earlier Gallup polling showed Obama faring significantly worse versus both Romney and Gingrich in swing states than was faring against them nationally. Gingrich, in particular, improved versus Obama in the swing states: While he trailed Obama by 6 points overall at that time, he led Obama by 3 points in states that are likely to be hotly contested — a swing of 9 points. Meanwhile, Romney improved by 6 points versus Obama in the swing states.
I’ve previously made the case that the swing states, and in particular the three most crucial swing states, could potentially be friendlier territory for Gingrich than for Romney.