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POLITICO-George Washington University Battleground Poll: President Obama Leads Mitt Romney 50 Percent to 47 Percent

Voter Enthusiasm is High Across Party Lines

September 24, 2012

WASHINGTON – President Obama leads Mitt Romney 50 percent to 47 percent according to a new POLITICO-George Washington University Battleground Poll released today. This is an incremental change since the August and May Battleground Polls showed the two candidates statistically tied at 48 and 47 percent.

"This poll comes after three bad events for Romney: the Democratic convention; the premature reaction to the attack on the Embassy in Cairo and the release of his remarks about 47 percent of Americans," said Christopher Arterton, founding dean of GW’s Graduate School of Political Management. "We're in the ninth inning and Romney’s three strikes make one out with only two more to go."

With 43 days to go until Election Day enthusiasm is high with 80 percent of Americans saying they are extremely likely to vote. Eighty-four percent of voters would not consider changing their vote for the other candidate. This has increased from 75 percent who said they would not change their vote in August. Regardless for whom individuals plan to vote, 60 percent believe that President Obama will win.

When voters are asked to rate the job President Obama is doing 50 percent approve and 48 percent disapprove. When voters are asked whether they have a favorable or an unfavorable impression of the candidates President Obama had a 53 percent favorable and 45 percent unfavorable impression, and Mr. Romney had a 46 percent favorable and a 49 percent unfavorable impression.

“The window to recast perceptions of the two parties and the candidates is rapidly closing,” said Celinda Lake, Democratic pollster and president of Lake Research Partners. “Fully 60 percent of voters predict an Obama victory, and since May, Democratic enthusiasm has vaulted, eclipsing that of Republicans. Today, 81 percent of Democrats are extremely likely to vote—up 12 points since May—compared to 78 percent of Republicans. With Obama now leading with 50 percent of the vote, personally popular, and boasting above-water job performance ratings for the first time in a year and even better in toss-up states, the Romney campaign—forced to promote one of the least popular candidates in modern history—is once again in need of a re-re-boot.”

Voters continue to say the economy is the most important issue but they are divided on who would better handle this issue.  The candidates are polling even on the economy with Obama at 49 percent and Romney at 48 percent. The issue of jobs is also tied at 48 percent. Romney leads on the federal budget and spending (50 percent to 45 percent). Obama leads on standing up for the middle class (57 to 39 percent).

“The latest Battleground Poll continues to show a close race, but Obama continues to run with strong negatives on his job performance on jobs, the economy and spending,” said Ed Goeas, Republican pollster and president/CEO of The Tarrance Group. “With those high disapproval ratings it is no surprise he is losing by nine-points with the two thirds of the electorate that is focused on pocketbook issues and by 14 points with middle class families that comprise an overwhelming majority of voters."

Although three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate are planned in the next few weeks, 38 percent of voters say these debates are not at all important to their decision. Only 11 percent of voters say the debates are extremely important. Despite this, 49 percent of voters plan to watch all of the debates.

Analyses of these issues and full results from the latest poll are available at and Media are invited to learn more about these results and preview the next poll at the Sunday Political Brunch Sept. 30 at 11 a.m. in GW’s Marvin Center Grand Ballroom. RSVP to [email protected].

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 Sept. 16 through Sept. 20, 2012 including a protocol for reaching mobile phone users, and yields a margin of error of + 3.1 percent.      

As the country prepares for 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.