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POLITICO-George Washington University Battleground Poll Captures Baseline of Presidential Race as Paul Ryan was Picked


August 13, 2012

WASHINGTON – The POLITICO-George Washington University Battleground Poll has captured voter beliefs only 36 hours before Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney selected Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate. The Battleground Poll establishes a timely baseline of data in the political news cycle.

On August 9, Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama remained statistically tied at 47 and 48 percent respectively. It appears little has changed in the tight race since the previous poll was conducted in May and the tie was Romney at 48 percent and Obama at 47 percent. One important change underlying the overall result is both parties are now equally solidified behind their candidate with 90 percent voting for their nominee. Enthusiasm to turnout is also even with less than three months to go until Election Day.

“Despite millions of advertising dollars spent by both sides, very little has changed in the overall presidential race during the three months since the last Battleground Poll,” said Christopher Arterton, founding dean of GW’s Graduate School of Political Management.

The economy remains the most important issue to voters, but negative views are persistent. When asked to describe their view of the national economy 28 percent said it is a recession, 13 percent said it is approaching a recession and 24 percent describe it as not moving. Looking ahead three months from now 34 percent of voters believe the national economy will not move. Looking ahead to the next generation 53 percent strongly believe that the next generation will be worse off economically than the current generation.

When asked which candidate will better handle the economy overall Romney holds a five percent lead at 49 percent over President Obama at 44 percent. Mitt Romney is leading President Obama on jobs (50 percent to 44 percent) and ability to get things done (47 percent to 41 percent). The two candidates are tied on taxes at 47 percent. President Obama leads on foreign policy (54 percent to 39 percent) and standing up for the middle class (54 percent to 40 percent).

“Voters will be taking the measure of both presidential nominees over these next three months,” said Ed Goeas, Republican pollster and president/CEO of The Tarrance Group. “The challenge facing President Obama will be that many voters have judged his policies to be failures, and voters may well decide that they want to move forward with the ideas of someone else.”

The motivations for voting for Obama or Romney are very different. Of those planning to vote for Romney 52 percent say they are voting against Obama and only 39 percent say they are voting for Romney. Meanwhile, of those who plan to vote for Obama, 77 percent say they are voting for him rather than against Romney (18 percent).

“The Paul Ryan pick can be explained by Romney's weakness,” said Celinda Lake, Democratic pollster and president of Lake Research Partners. “His personal negatives are up to the highest of any Republican nominee in recent history. Enthusiasm among the Republicans is down. Only slightly more than a third of his voters support him because of who he is and a quarter would consider voting for someone else -- significantly higher than the President.”

Analyses of these issues and full results from the latest poll are available at and

The POLITICO-George Washington University Battleground Poll is a nationally recognized, series of surveys conducted by Republican pollster Ed Goeas of The Tarrance Group and Democratic pollster Celinda Lake of Lake Research Partners. The George Washington University Global Media Institute, affiliated with the Graduate School of Political Management (GSPM) and the School of Media and Public Affairs (SMPA), serves as the university’s home for the partnership. George Washington’s Gelman Library houses the data archive of the survey results dating back more than two decades. The poll, which is distinguished from other surveys by its presentation of separate analyses from these top pollsters representing both sides of the aisle, surveyed 1,000 registered likely voters nationwide August 5 through August 9, 2012 including a protocol for reaching mobile phone users, and yields a margin of error of + 3.1 percent.

As the country shifts its focus to the 2012 elections, the POLITICO-George Washington University Battleground Poll results will be a valuable tool in anticipating the outcome and gauging voter attitudes and concerns.

Christopher Arterton, professor of political management at GW; Celinda Lake, president of Lake Research Partners; and Ed Goeas, President/CEO of The Tarrance Group; are all available for comment. For Professor Arterton, contact Angela Olson at 202-994-3087. For Ms. Lake, contact Anderson Gardner at Lake Research Partners, 202-776-9066. For Mr. Goeas, contact Brian Nienaber at The Tarrance Group, 703-684-6688.



Angela Olson - 202-994-3087 - [email protected]
Jill Sankey - 202-994-6466 - [email protected]



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