Romney Closing the Gap With Obama in Key Swing States


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The Good News for Obama

The Obamas needn’t start packing up the White House just based on this poll. Poll results suggested that although Romney had a bump in favorability, Obama experiences similar bumps in intensity and enthusiasm among his supporters. Of the swing state voters polled by Gallup, 36 percent said they would certainly vote for Obama, while 32 percent said they would definitely vote for Romney. The remaining respondents may be convinced to change their minds before November.

When respondents were asked to rate their enthusiasm to vote for their preferred candidate, 55 percent of Obama supporters were enthusiastic. This was up from 49 percent when the survey was conducted in late March. Enthusiasm for Romney among his supporters has steadily declined, from 55 percent in January to 47 percent in late March.

Interpreting the Poll Results

2008 Electoral Map. Image by Gage.

Romney’s surge in swing states seems to be mirrored in nationwide polls. Aggregate poll results from RealClearPolitics are similar to the Gallup swing state poll. When Romney and Obama are paired in a hypothetical matchup, Obama leads by only one point, with percentages on his side moving downward while Romney’s move upward. The Obama campaign may be relieved, however, by improved intensity and enthusiasm in swing states.

Obama vs. Romney: Enthusiasm Polled

As an example of how crucial enthusiasm in swing states can be, think back to the 2008 presidential election. Although leads fluctuated between Barack Obama and John McCain in national and statewide polls, Obama went on to cinch all 12 swing states and win the election. This was attributed to high enthusiasm and considerable voter turnout among his supporters.

If Obama’s enthusiasm continues to increase, while Romney’s remains stagnant, polls could become misleading, since unenthusiastic voters may not turn out to the polls. On the other hand, many analysts are skeptical of Obama garnering the level of enthusiasm he enjoyed in 2008, and some polls have indicated strong enthusiasm against Obama among his opponents. Until we are closer to the actual election, it may be difficult to forecast the actual outcome.


Gallup. Obama-Romney Race Competitive in 12 Swing States. Accessed May 7, 2012.

RealClearPolitics. General Election: Romney vs. Obama. Accessed May 7, 2012.

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