Destination 270

SMU Students Analyze the 2012 Presidential Election

Romney’s New Lead in Florida: Can it Last?

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Post-debate bounce.  With both sides of the aisle conceding that the presidential hopeful, Mitt Romney, “won” Wednesday’s opening debate, it is likely that this is the driving factor behind the polling shifts we have seen in the latter portion of this week.  Not only has Mitt Romney closed in on President Obama’s polling advantage in many states, but he has actually taken over the lead in a few others.  Luckily for Mr. Romney, this years most infamous swing state, Florida, is among those that now seem to be leaning Republican. At least for now…

Coming in to this week’s debate, President Obama had been gaining speed in the Sunshine State.  After weeks deeming the presidential election in Florida to be a “complete draw,” pollsters and pundits alike were finally beginning to make public predictions about which way the results would go.  The growing consensus: Obama would win Florida.

Obviously, this turn in events was a nightmare for the Romney campaign, as losing Florida would be the ultimate nail in the coffin for the trailing candidate.  Needless to say, the stakes were extremely high for Mitt Romney to perform well on Wednesday.  And perform well, he did.

Due to Romney’s exceptional performance, the pollsters and pundits have been sent back to the drawing board in terms of sketching out a victory path for President Obama in Florida.  In polls released on Friday by Rasmussen Reports and the polling firm We Ask America, Mr. Romney’s new lead in Florida is the largest lead he has in any of the swing states. Rasmussen has the ratio set at 49% Romney to 47% Obama, whereas We Ask America shows an even larger spread with 49% going to Romney and 46% going to Obama.  The We Ask America poll gives Mr. Romney a six point net increase in Florida since their last poll in mid-September.

But will Mitt Romney be able to hold on to this momentum until Election Day or will this impulsive swing in voter preference die down? According to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll taken Wednesday morning—before the presidential debate—62 percent of likely voters said the presidential debate will be only “somewhat” or “not at all” important in helping them make their decision on who to support as president.

On the other hand, 38 percent say the debates will be “extremely” or “quite important” factors in their decision. These numbers are not surprising as they somewhat represent the percentage of American voters who do account for “swing voters, moderates, or undecideds” versus those who have already made up their mind.

Thus, it is still hard to tell whether or not Mitt Romney will be able to maintain this post-debate momentum, especially in Florida where job approval ratings for President Obama are actually higher than the national average.

Several Romney-skeptics believe that his new found lead is due not so much to his debate performance, but rather it is a result of all the negative press President Obama got following the debate.  Regardless, Mr. Romney was able to achieve what many undecided voters were waiting for him to do: assert his strengths over President Obama with ease, confidence, and even a little humor thrown in there. Even if this was not the direct cause of his debate bounce, it was what ultimately earned President Obama that negative post-coverage that many attribute it too.  Thus, the stakes are still high for Mr. Romney in Florida, and he certainly has an uphill battle still ahead of him, but if he can continue to perform well in his debates, there might be some sunlight at the end of the tunnel.

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