A series of new polls has confirmed that, in the wake of his disastrous July, Mitt Romney is losing serious ground to President Obama.
Three polls that were conducted in the first week of August show President Obama leading Romney by seven or more percentage points. CNN has Obama up 52-45, Reuters/Ipsos has Obama up 49-42, and Fox News has Obama leading 49-40. All three of these margins are up from previous surveys.
For Romney, the most troubling finding of the polls is his damaged reputation. While Obama’s favorable/unfavorable spread is +14 in the CNN poll and +12 in the Fox News poll, Romney’s is just -1 and +1, respectively. The CNN poll shows that 48 percent view Romney unfavorably, up six points from last month. His unfavorable rating in the Fox News poll is at 45 percent, up five points from last month. This suggests that Obama’s string of negative ads attacking Romney are resonating with voters, and should be a major concern for the Romney campaign.
The polls contain other warning signs for Romney. According to the CNN poll, 63 percent think that Romney should release additional tax returns (compared to 36 who say he should not, and just 2 percent who have no opinion.) The Reuters/Ipsos poll shows that voters think President Obama is stronger than Romney on the traditionally Republican-dominated issue of taxes by a 49-38 percent margin. According to the Fox News poll, only 26 percent would be “extremely” or “very comfortable” with Romney as president, compared to 33 percent who would be “somewhat comfortable” and 38 percent who would be “not at all comfortable” with Romney as Commander in Chief. On almost every issue, it seems that Obama is successfully outflanking Romney.
According to CBS News’ Nancy Cordes, the Obama campaign is “mystified” that the Romney campaign has not hardly run any positive ads about their candidate’s biography, instead allowing Obama and his allies to paint their own picture of the presumptive Republican nominee. As a result of that decision — and, most likely, a series of unforced errors by the candidate himself — Romney has gone from a virtual tie to a clear deficit.
For its part, the Romney campaign is still insisting that “People are not paying as much attention to this process” during the dog days of summer, and that the race hasn’t really started yet. This logic is countered, however, by the fact that polls show far fewer undecided voters than at this point in past elections.
So, while there is still plenty of time for Romney to recover, right now his campaign must be considered a clear underdog in this race.