A new Quinnipiac/New York Times/CBS News poll, which shows President Obama handily beating Mitt Romney among likely voters in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, has sparked justifiable concern among some Republicans. In the wake of that poll, it’s worth comparing the state-by-state polling from Rasmussen Reports, whose polling is perhaps viewed with less skepticism in conservative circles. Unfortunately, only three months and four days away from the most important election at least since the Civil War, Rasmussen confirms that Obama is in the lead.
If we look at all Rasmussen polling taken in the past month in the ten key swing states (Fla., Ohio, Va., Wis., Penn., Nev., Mich., Colo., Iowa, and N.H.) and fill in the rest of the states as they would be expected to go, the tally as of today would be as follows: 284 electoral votes for Obama, 235 for Romney. That, of course, would be enough to give Obama another four years.
Rasmussen’s polling shows Obama leading Romney by 1 point in Virginia, 2 points in Ohio, 3 points in Wisconsin, 4 points in Pennsylvania, 5 points in Nevada, and 6 points in Michigan. It shows Romney beating Obama by 1 point in Florida. Rasmussen hasn’t done any polling in the past month in Colorado, Iowa, or New Hampshire. (This 284-235 tally assumes a Romney victory in North Carolina, where he led by 3 points in Rasmussen’s polling in late June, and Obama victories in New Mexico and Minnesota.)
If Romney’s tenuous 1-point lead in Florida were to swing the other way, the tally would be Obama 313, Romney 206.
So far, Romney has largely failed to emphasize that this election is about a choice of two futures for America. When the election is characterized in that way, Americans don’t like the choice being offered by Obama — and particularly by Obamacare. But if voters largely base their choice on image or personality — or on whether the party of Bush or the party of Obama is better suited to deal with the economic plight of the middle class — all bets are off.
On the cusp of the most important exercise of leadership that Romney will have the chance to showcase prior to November — his selection of a running mate — he has the perfect opportunity to emphasize, through his pick, that this election is about a choice of two futures for America: liberty and prosperity, or coercion and decline. He needs a running mate who would both symbolize that choice and help him give voice to it.