This week, NBC News and The Wall Street Journal released a new presidential
poll showing President Obama with a six-point advantage over his
Republican challenger -- the same margin, the Journal noted, as four previous
NBC/WSJ polls over the last year.
On Wednesday, Public Policy Polling issued surveys of voters in Pennsylvania and Michigan. In Pennsylvania, the results precisely mirrored the new national survey, 49 percent for the president and 43 percent for Mitt Romney. In Michigan, the incumbent's lead looked slightly more secure, at 14 percentage points.
The independent but Democratic-leaning firm noted one more common thread in recent statewide and national polling.
"We last looked at each of these states in May," PPP president Dean Debnam said in a release accompanying the new numbers. "Speaking to the stability of the presidential race over the last couple months, the Michigan result is exactly identical to the last poll, and the Pennsylvania poll differs only slightly from Obama's 50-42 advantage on the previous one."
Despite the worst economy in most voters' memories, the president has retained a tenuous lead in most national surveys, although his advantage was slightly greater in the NBC/WSJ snapshot than in some other recent national polls. The average compiled by RealClearPolitics showed him with an advantage of just 1.3 percent, and the most recent daily tracking polls from Gallup and Rasmussen Reports showed the Republican with a small lead. But a common denominator of almost all recent polling is the depiction of a fairly static race with national margins within or near the margins for error for most surveys.
"There's such a sharp partisan divide, and most people are already locked into their candidates," said Brad Coker, managing director of Mason-Dixon Polling & Research. "There's maybe 10 percent who are still persuadable. I tell people it's 45-45 and a jump ball for the rest."
Mason-Dixon's most recent survey of the key Florida battleground showed a race essentially tied in a state Mr. Obama won narrowly four years ago. In Ohio, a Quinnipiac University found Mr. Obama with a nine-point advantage in one survey in mid-June, but that was an outlier to most recent polling in the crucial state, with a handful of subsequent polls showing Mr. Obama with leads consistently within the surveys' margins for error.
This stability in state and national results has persisted in the face of a cascade of what would seem politically influential events -- the Supreme Court's health care decision and the persistently somber economic news -- and airwaves in battleground states awash in an unprecedented flood of advertising dollars.
This trial-heat consensus has barely moved despite weeks of the Obama campaign's withering criticism of Mr. Romney's business record with Bain Capital and the Romney forces more recent portrayal of Mr. Obama as a champion of government who does not understand how businesses are built.
The actions of the rival campaigns suggest that the attacks may have registered in their internal poll numbers. Mr. Obama felt compelled to air a new commercial attempting to rebut the Romney attacks. Mr. Romney has complained that the Bain and tax return questions amount to demonizing success. His campaign's decision to leak a suggestion that former Secretary of
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