2012 Tuesday: Seeking trendlines for Obama and Romney

Opinion polls have value — and limits. The value in the new CBS News/New York Times poll isn’t the headline result showing Mitt Romney leading Barack Obama 46-43. The top-line, national result in a poll conducted almost six months before Election Day is pretty worthless.

But there is value in some of the underlying data, and what they tell us about the direction the election may be taking. There’s some good and bad for each candidate.

First, a quick note about why these data mean anything. Because this poll is taken regularly, with consistency in the wording of questions over time, we can get a decent idea of trend lines. Even better, the people surveyed last Friday to Sunday (May 11-13) are the very same people surveyed last month, giving us an idea of how particular people’s opinions are shifting. However, not all of the people from the April poll chose to participate in May; again, there are limits.

Now to the data. We’ll start with the good for Obama because, frankly, it won’t take that long.

One good thing for Obama is that Romney’s favorability ratings got worse, to a net margin of minus-7 from minus-5 a month earlier. Obama’s own rating improved to even, from a net minus-3. On the other hand, those changes didn’t prevent Romney from taking that 3-point overall lead (the two were tied 46-46 in April).

Maybe the best thing the Obama campaign can take from this poll is that people’s views of the economy are improving. In April, the improving/worsening split was 33-28. This month it was 36-24, the most positive view in the CBS/NYT poll since April 2010. Given that the economy looms large with this group — 62 percent called it the most important issue for the election — that seems like good news for Obama.

Unfortunately for him, that improvement didn’t show up in the headline result. What gives?

We don’t know exactly, because the pollsters didn’t ask about which candidate voters thought would be best for the economy. But we do know that 67 percent, down only slightly from April, still rate the economy as bad. Until that number changes in Obama’s favor, the economy is likely to weigh on his ratings.

The pollsters didn’t ask much specifically about the economy, but they asked a lot about last week’s big news story: Obama’s new support for same-sex marriage. And here the numbers are not good for Obama: Voters say they’re less likely to support Obama because of his position by a net margin of 9 percentage points, while they say Romney’s opposite position makes them more likely to support him by a net 6 points. Among independents, it was minus-8 for Obama and dead even for Romney. Obama might do well to stick with his professed plan not to make much of the issue, in the hopes that not many people’s votes will turn on it: Just 7 percent said it was the most important issue to them, and Democrats (8 percent), Republicans and independents (6 percent each) were similarly likely to voice that opinion.

There are two trends, however, that are notably in Romney’s favor.

First, despite the Democratic rhetoric about the GOP’s “war on women,” Romney won a 2-point edge among women. That in itself wouldn’t be such a big deal, but Romney trailed among women by 6 points last month. That is a big swing within a group that historically sides with Democrats.

Second, conservatives are consolidating behind Romney after the bitter primary season. Romney’s lead over Obama among self-described conservatives grew by 11 percentage points between April and May and now stands at 75-8. That leaves 17 percent still undecided, meaning Romney may have a significant amount of ground yet to gain with his own base. (At 89-10, Obama’s lead among liberals is probably about as good as it’s going to get.) Romney also cut Obama’s lead with self-described moderates nearly in half, from 20 points in April to 11 points in May.

Again, Election Day is nearly six months away, and a lot stands to change between now and then. But in a tight race — Obama leads the Real Clear Politics average, which excludes this CBS/NYT poll, by just 2.2 points — these trends beneath the headlines will give us a good idea of what’s working, and who the campaigns may try to woo next.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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58 comments Add your comment

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

May 15th, 2012
12:27 pm

Here’s a trend line: Obama landslide!

I demand to see Cheesy Grits Birth Certificate- Long Form Please

May 15th, 2012
12:27 pm

Romney will stay pretty close in the popular vote.

But he has almost no chance to win electoral college and as we found out in 2000 thats what really matters..

ByteMe

May 15th, 2012
12:28 pm

Margin of error for the subsets (like women), Kyle?

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

May 15th, 2012
12:29 pm

What are the latest Vegas odds on these two candidates? I can’t look from my work compooter. (The Man is keeping me down!)

I demand to see Cheesy Grits Birth Certificate- Long Form Please

May 15th, 2012
12:31 pm

“If you want to live like a Republican, vote Democratic.”

Harry Truman

I demand to see Cheesy Grits Birth Certificate- Long Form Please

May 15th, 2012
12:39 pm

What are the latest Vegas odds on these two candidates? I can’t look from my work compooter. (The Man is keeping me down!)

Its basically 2 to 1 for Obama.

Basically Obama will win 2/3 rds of the time and Romney 1 out of 3.

That sounds about right.

As much as people complain about incumbents a one term president is very very rare.

If you have a 6 sided dice at home roll it.

If its 1-4 Obama wins … a 5 or a 6 and its Cheesy Grits.

Jefferson

May 15th, 2012
12:43 pm

If this is what you live for, knock yourself out.

jconservative

May 15th, 2012
12:48 pm

It is to early to form opinions on who will win.

iggy

May 15th, 2012
12:48 pm

Perhaps to increase his odds, Obama could dump “hoof in mouth” Biden and enlist one of the hollywood elite. Such as Clooney, Will Smith, Babs, Rosie O. Any one of these “winners” couldnt possibly hurt Obama re-election chances.

iggy

May 15th, 2012
12:49 pm

Then theres Joy Behar…

Big D

May 15th, 2012
1:03 pm

Poor Finn-Things just keep getting worse. Las Vegas odds are about attracting betters. The ideal is to set the odds so there are an equal number of betters on both sides. Obama’s problem is the only people he now has an advantage with is minorites. Note the definition of minority doesn’t translate to victory in an election.

Big D

May 15th, 2012
1:10 pm

Remember one thing about polls. Obama has been in office for three and a half years. He is well known. When asked who a voter will vote for if the voter says undecided, that is a Romney vote. After three and a half years the voter doesn’t know whether he will vote for Obama don’t you blieve it! No one knows if Romney will be a better president than Obama, but we do know he won’t be worse.

iggy

May 15th, 2012
1:17 pm

“What are the latest Vegas odds on these two candidates? I can’t look from my work compooter”

Work compooter? You mean your having trouble getting with your Commodore 64?

Ghengis Kahn

May 15th, 2012
1:25 pm

Obama is going down. Hell he is the incuumbent and this far out he is actually trailing. That’s horrible. And this time he has a terrible economic record. Aint no hiding from it.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

May 15th, 2012
1:25 pm

Why Conservatives hate freedom
Since World War II, mainstream conservatives have opposed every expansion of personal liberty in the United States.

http://www.salon.com/2012/05/15/why_do_conservatives_hate_freedom/

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

May 15th, 2012
1:27 pm

Thats 6 more months for Romney to flip flop. Let’s see, at a flipflop every 2 days, that’s roughly 90 more flip flops.

iggy

May 15th, 2012
1:31 pm

I think Biden is a closeted Obama hater. He seems to always make stupid comments that make Obama look like and even bigger fool. Yes, Biden may be the GOPs best weapon against Obama.

Illegal Alien

May 15th, 2012
1:33 pm

Swap Hillary for Biden. That would enhance Obama’s chances and set up Hillary for 2016.

Kyle Wingfield

May 15th, 2012
1:44 pm

ByteMe @ 12:28: Unspecified.

Richard

May 15th, 2012
1:56 pm

Kyle,

You really need to step your game up. Your buddy, Jay Bookman, would never say a word like “trendline” without some kind of graph. Come on man!

Road Scholar

May 15th, 2012
2:02 pm

iggy, you may be a closeted fool, but since you posted so much, the closet door is wide open!

Kyle:”..We’ll start with the good for Obama because, frankly, it won’t take that long.”
From a man who chose to endorse/support Newt; priceless!

Tiberius - Banned from Bookman's and proud of it!

May 15th, 2012
2:09 pm

While I don’t buy totally into the lead Romney now has with women, it does show the contrived “GOP war on women” is just that – contrived – because it certainly isn’t playing with the people being polled, rather than with the Obamamedia and inside the Beltway pundits.

Love me some Reagan

May 15th, 2012
2:18 pm

Kyle

While he still think Romney’s chances are good, have you seem Karl Rove’s current Electoral College map?

He is either working to build a “Romney rose from the ashes” story or he is saying one thing but is thinking another.

Love me some Reagan

May 15th, 2012
2:21 pm

“…. have you seen………”

My apologies

Tiberius - Banned from Bookman's and proud of it!

May 15th, 2012
2:29 pm

Reagan, how many times do you have to be told that state polls lag at least 4-6 weeks behind national polls and don’t mean a thing until late September or early October?

Rove is wasting everyone’s time in trying to be relevant, and giving false hope to Obama supporters by making this seem like a slam-dunk.

Love me some Reagan

May 15th, 2012
2:32 pm

Tib

Don’t be a little child and get your thongs in a wad. I was merely asking Kyle a question.

If you do not like what I post, you are welcome to save yourself some time and move along

As for as Rove is concerned. Seeing that he runs the largest Super Pac this is supporting either of the two parties, he is pretty relevant

Have a good day.

Becky

May 15th, 2012
2:34 pm

Can’t wait to see how far the Contrived War on Women (hahahahhahahahaahaha) pushes the landslide for the newly re-elected President Obama.

Deal with it. Women don’t forget and we vote with our ballots and our checkbooks. Just ask Komen!!!!!

HDB

May 15th, 2012
2:36 pm

More good news for Obama….

..from the Des Moines Register:

Bull market: “It’s morning in America,” says Bob Baur, chief global economist at Principal Financial Group.

Why he’s optimistic: U.S. manufacturing is back, especially as costs rise for the Chinese, U.S. energy prices are falling and the dollar remains cheap. He also believes Europe’s recession will be mild, with possible growth in the fourth quarter, and China will have a soft landing as its growth slows.

Baur, who spoke to the Rotary Club of Des Moines last week, said risks to the economic recovery are high, however. They include the possibility of oil price spikes, policy mistakes and political uncertainty, both in the U.S. and Europe. In the U.S., the fate of expiring tax breaks and health care laws will add to the uncertainty, he said.

The upshot: “In the short term, we like U.S. stocks, even if the risk is high,” he said. That includes large cap, growth and dividend-paying stocks, he said.

Tiberius - Banned from Bookman's and proud of it!

May 15th, 2012
2:39 pm

Becky, there will be no landslide, either through the popular vote or the Electoral College. And women will remain in the 2-3 point spread between both candidates, probably favoring Obama.

No one but the media is buying the contrived “War on Women”.

HIPPOCRIT

May 15th, 2012
2:39 pm

becky
may the BREAST man win
since there are no women running

Becky

May 15th, 2012
2:42 pm

Well Tibs you are just wrong but keep up the good fight if you want to continue looking foolish. Just ask Komen why their donations are down 40%.

@@

May 15th, 2012
2:42 pm

Saw another poll somewhere that asked whether Obama’s gay marriage support was politically motivated or sincere. 67% said it was politically motivated.

Tiberius - Banned from Bookman's and proud of it!

May 15th, 2012
2:51 pm

“The upshot: “In the short term, we like U.S. stocks, even if the risk is high,” he said. That includes large cap, growth and dividend-paying stocks, he said.”

Stocks are not an indication of economic health any longer, HDB.

But nice try.

Tiberius - Banned from Bookman's and proud of it!

May 15th, 2012
2:54 pm

“Just ask Komen why their donations are down 40%.”

Ticking off BOTH sides of an issue with women are guaranteed to get you reduced donations in a bad economy, Becky.

We call it “human nature”.

iggy

May 15th, 2012
2:56 pm

“67% said it was politically motivated.”

Of course it was politially motivated.

Becky

May 15th, 2012
2:58 pm

Tibs-you funny and so very wrong. The women will carry President Obama to victory laughing all the way.

Contrived War on Women-uh huh. We will have the last laugh.

iggy

May 15th, 2012
3:00 pm

“Bull market: “It’s morning in America,” says Bob Baur, chief global economist at Principal Financial Group.”

Morning in America? No I dont think so. Unemployment continues above 8% and will continue. Increased stock market investment doesnt equate to jobs. The “bill of goods” Obama continues to sell is no longer being bought. The only transparency he instituted was that on his character.

Obama is a good speaker but even the best of speakers, sooner or later, succumb to their own double talk.

Enjoy…

Becky

May 15th, 2012
3:02 pm

I am really looking forward to the debates this fall. Anyone know when they start? Willard has to be getting worried.

iggy

May 15th, 2012
3:06 pm

When Obama loses to “Willard” as some call him, lol. Be ready for a fight. Between Nov and Jan Obama will attempt to install himself as Supreme Mullah/Grand PooBah of the USA.

Becky

May 15th, 2012
3:08 pm

Here they are, you are welcome.

2012 Presidential and Vice Presidential debate dates announced
By Nate, on November 2nd, 2011
The Commission on Presidential Debates has announced the dates for the 2012 Presidential debates between President Obama and the eventual GOP Presidential nominee. A date has also been announced for a Vice Presidential debate.

As a result, our official 2012 Presidential Debate Schedule page has been updated with ticketing information and other details direct from the venues.

First presidential debate:
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
University of Denver, Denver, CO

Vice presidential debate:
Thursday, October 11, 2012
Centre College, Danville, KY

Second presidential debate (town meeting format):
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY

Third presidential debate:
Monday, October 22, 2012
Lynn University, Boca Raton, FL

The 2012 Presidential Debate Schedule page will be updated with broadcast times, moderators and other pertinent details as they’re made available.

——————————————————————————–

iggy

May 15th, 2012
3:11 pm

I recall the W/Goron debates. Goron looked so desparate, flailing around like he was about to cry. Precious!!

Kyle Wingfield

May 15th, 2012
3:16 pm

@@: It was the same poll.

That Black guy

May 15th, 2012
3:21 pm

Finn McCool (The System isn’t Broken; It’s Fixed)

May 15th, 2012
1:25 pm
Why Conservatives hate freedom
Since World War II, mainstream conservatives have opposed every expansion of personal liberty in the United States.

http://www.salon.com/2012/05/15/why_do_conservatives_hate_freedom/
____________________________________________________________________________

Finn, would you take a story seriously if it came from the Weekly Standard or Washington Examiner?

Salon? Unbiased right?

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

May 15th, 2012
3:26 pm

Which part of that story don’t you agree with, TBG?

That Black guy

May 15th, 2012
3:28 pm

Finn McCool (The System isn’t Broken; It’s Fixed)

May 15th, 2012
3:26 pm
Which part of that story don’t you agree with, TBG?
__________________________________________________________________________

Didn’t read it.

I refuse to give incendiary partisan groups/journalists any traffic.

They harm, not help the country.

Tiberius - Banned from Bookman's and proud of it!

May 15th, 2012
3:39 pm

While the premise of the story Finn cited is factually correct (conservatives do, in fact, create laws or take stances where freedom is curtailed), conservatives do not hate freedom. Just more hyperbolic rhetoric from the left.

BOTH sides enjoy curtailing freedom – conservatives from the social side and liberals from the economic side. Neither has a good record on this issue.

It’s kinda like the earlier topic in it’s dichotomy. The left complains about “fairness” but never articulates what “fair” is, while conservatives claim they’re for freedom but only when they get to pick and choose which ones.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

May 15th, 2012
3:44 pm

Tiberius, was that article complete left wing bias? No objectivity what so ever?

Tiberius - Banned from Bookman's and proud of it!

May 15th, 2012
4:24 pm

Finn, whenever the question being asked is so hyperbolic as “Why do – - – - hate – - – - “, the article is always biased, as was this one.

Some of it was true, some of it was contrived, and some of it was just plain silly.

@@

May 15th, 2012
5:54 pm

@@: It was the same poll.

Oh!

Among the many things I DID not know.

(ISH)

Just goes to show that 67% of the public is onto him, as opposed to into him.

schnirt

Romney can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but he cannot fool all the people all the time

May 15th, 2012
6:59 pm

@iggy

May 15th, 2012
12:48 pm
Perhaps to increase his odds, Obama could dump “hoof in mouth” Biden and enlist one of the hollywood elite. Such as Clooney, Will Smith, Babs, Rosie O. Any one of these “winners” couldnt possibly hurt Obama re-election chances.

*****************************************************************

Perhaps to increase his odds, Romney could dump himself out of the race.