This Staff item was originally published on September 21, 2012.
In his National Journal column, “Heartland Monitor Poll: Obama Leads 50 Percent to 43 Percent,” Ronald Brownstein reports on the new Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll, and sees President Obama holding a “tangible advantage” over Romney. In addition to his overall edge in the poll, Brownstein adds”
Race remains a jagged dividing line in attitudes about Obama’s performance. Just 40 percent of white likely voters give him positive job-approval marks, unchanged since May. But fully 77 percent of nonwhites say they approve of Obama’s work, up sharply from 64 percent in May.
The same stark racial divide runs through preferences in the November election. For Obama, the formula for success in 2012 can be reduced to a single equation: 80-40. If he can hold the combined 80 percent he won among all minorities in 2008, and they represent at least the 26 percent of ballots they cast last time, then he can assemble a national majority with support from merely about 40 percent of whites.
On both fronts, the survey shows the president almost exactly hitting that mark. He leads Romney among all nonwhite voters by 78 percent to 18 percent, drawing over nine in 10 African-Americans and slightly more than the two-thirds of Hispanics he carried last time.
Among whites, Obama wins 41 percent compared to Romney’s 51 percent. Obama’s showing is down slightly from the 43 percent among whites he attracted in 2008 but still enough for the president to prevail in both sides’ calculations. With more whites than non-whites either undecided or saying they intend to support another candidate, Romney is not nearly approaching the roughly three-in-five support among them he’ll likely need to win.
In terms of the white working-class demographic, Brownstein notes,
In the new survey, Romney leads Obama among non-college whites by 54 percent to 37 percent, almost exactly the same margin as McCain’s 18-percentage-point advantage over the president with those voters in 2008 (when they backed the Republican by 58 percent to 40 percent). The new poll shows Obama winning only 39 percent of non-college white men and 35 percent of non-college white women; but to overcome Obama’s other strengths, Romney will need to generate even larger margins with those voters. In fact, Obama’s performance with those working-class whites has slightly improved since the May survey.
Brownstein adds that Romney still leads with seniors, holding close to 60 percent of them — about the same as McCain’s tally, and Obama is nearly matching his ’08 support among college-educated white and “millennial generation” (ages 18-29) LVs. Brownstein concludes, “Taken together, all of these small movements toward Obama have produced, at least for now, a tangible advantage for the president over Romney as the race hurtles toward its final weeks.” Not a bad position for the President less than 7 weeks from E-Day.