Romney’s Surge

The election is a dead heat, but Mitt has the momentum, say Douglas E. Schoen and Jessica Tarlov.

Charles Dharapak / AP Photo

With just two weeks to go until Election Day, the popular vote is, as everyone knows, effectively a dead heat. The Real Clear Politics average has Romney enjoying a 0.9-point advantage. And while the latest Rasmussen numbers give Romney a 4-point edge and he is ahead 5 in Gallup, there are other polls that have Obama leading. In the latest IBD/TIPP poll, for instance, the president is up by 2.

But there are two other crucial indicators that show momentum for Mitt. The first is the trend in the Electoral College—and one state in particular.

At this point, many of the states in the Real Clear Politics “toss ups” category appear likely to go one way or the other. Florida and Virginia will probably go for Romney, while Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan will most likely be won by the president.

And so, as we’ve argued before, that leaves Ohio as the state that will likely decide the election. The polls from Ohio currently show a dead heat, but they also show momentum for Romney. Just two weeks ago, Obama was up 10 points in the state. Today, that margin has closed to 3 in the latest SurveyUSA poll. Meanwhile, the latest Suffolk (PDF) poll has Ohio tied (at 47) and Rasmussen also has a tie (at 48). All of this is clearly good news for Mitt.

What’s more, there were other pieces of good news for Romney hidden in the aftermath of the third debate. In the CNN/ORC snap poll, which asked voters whether Romney could handle being commander-in-chief, 60 percent answered in the affirmative as compared to 38 percent against. Further, the two candidates were tied on likability—a big change from the 20-point lead the president held in this area a couple of months ago. While Obama won the debate on substance, it may not have mattered because Romney was still competent, for the most part presidential, and apparently far more likable than he once was.

Taken together, Romney’s improving image and the changing polls in Ohio do not paint a good picture for Obama. Time is running out for the president to counter Mitt’s surge. It’s still a tie, but things seem to be trending Romney’s way.