The three most recent national polls show President Obama and Mitt Romney tied, with Romney, upon consolidating his position as the presumptive GOP nominee, having erased a consistent Obama margin averaging about 5 percentage points that had existed for months.
The three most recent national polls, by Gallup, Rasmussen and Politico, all give Romney a one point advantage, within the margin of error.
Why does this matter, six months before Election Day? Who cares?
It matters for two reasons.
First, it says we’re at the starting gate, and the competitors are lined up shoulder to shoulder. This is anyone’s race to lose or win.
If Romney can convince voters he’ll heel the economy and conduct a solid foreign policy while at the very least not annoying them – all while painting Obama as a scary Socialist and incompetent on the economy – he will win. If Obama can convince voters that Romney eats babies and that he as president has been doing well enough given the circumstances and needs more time to fix things – while not frightening too many off with his leftism – he will win.
Second, the poll also suggests that Obama’s current strategy of using inconsequential issues like the Buffett Rule, student loan rates and the “war on women” to demonize Republicans is, so far, not getting him anywhere. Not only has the race tightened, his own rise in popularity has stalled and even fallen back in recent days, remaining stubbornly below 50 percent.
The Politico poll also shows Romney winning independents by ten points and leading by 6 among those who describe themselves as “extremely likely” to vote.
There is no sign that the economy is going to suddenly improve. This will be close race, and Romney’s fate is in his own hands.