What a difference a month makes. When we last checked the state of the Presidential race, Obama was still mired in an approval slump, the electoral map hadn’t budged and Newt Gingrich was seen as the main threat to Mitt Romney in Iowa. The latest numbers show a dramatically improved playing field for the president probably because of his support for the payroll tax cut and a more pro-middle class message.
Obama Job Approval
The latest RealClearPolitics Index of Obama’s Job Approval is here. Since last month, he has shown a dramatic improvement in his average, improving from 43.8% to 47.2% in his approval, while his disapproval numbers fell from 50.8% to 47.8%.
As of yesterday, the Gallup Tracking Poll has Obama at 46% in his approval and 47% disapproval (he was in positive territory on Wednesday), though the Rasmussen Tracking Poll has him at 45/53. Other polls in December also have Obama in positive territory for his approval/disapproval and the trends are moving in his direction. One of the keys to these numbers is that Obama has moved past the 44% approval he’d been stuck on for months. He’s not at 50%, but upward movement is the name of the game.
Obama still leads every one of the Republican challengers, though the latest Rasmussen poll has him in a tie with Romney. As was true last month, Romney matches up best with the president and placed ahead of Obama in two December polls. Still, Obama leads in the aggregate but we will need more up-to-date numbers to get a more accurate snapshot.
The Republican Field
I’ve covered the field in two posts this week. The first was a Polling Report preview of the Iowa caucuses and the second a recap of what we learned. I’ll let those stand as an analysis of the GOP field. Michele Bachmann’s withdrawal from the race and Rick Perry’s reduced influence will probably result in improved number for Rick Santorum, but the feeding frenzy on his record has already begun. The latest New Hampshire polls gives Romney a solid lead, but the Washington Times has Paul surging and Santorum in double digits. Mark Blumenthal at Pollster has a great analysis of the latest polling in New Hampshire. By the weekend, it could all change.
The RealClearPolitics Electoral College Map also showed Obama’s improvement, adding three states, Michigan, Iowa and Nevada to his ledger. He now has an estimated 229 electoral votes to 191 for the generic Republican challenger. The latest Congressional Vote has the Democrats leading by 1.6%, an increase from 1.2% in December.
One of this election season’s narratives has been that Republicans are far more enthusiastic about the presidential election than Democrats. Did that ring true in Iowa? Not so much, according to this article by Michael P. McDonald on The Huffington Post. His main point is that Tea Party fever is over, but of course we only have one state’s data as a guide. Let’s see what happens for the balance of January.
That’s it for now. The election season is beginning to percolate, so join the fun at: