The Good News and Bad News from Recent Presidential Polling

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TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 12: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (L) shakes hands with Gov. Rick Perry at the end of a presidential debate sponsored by CNN and The Tea Party Express at the Florida State fairgrounds on September 12, 2011 in Tampa, Florida. The debate featured the eight candidates ten days before the Florida straw poll. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

TAMPA, FL – SEPTEMBER 12: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (L) shakes hands with Gov. Rick Perry at the end of a presidential debate sponsored by CNN and The Tea Party Express at the Florida State fairgrounds on September 12, 2011 in Tampa, Florida. The debate featured the eight candidates ten days before the Florida straw poll. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Written by Dominic Dezzutti

With fourteen months before the 2012 general election, the value of Presidential candidate polling, especially general election polling can be debated.

However, polling at this stage of the game is less about predicting the final results of the election, and more about gauging momentum and helping candidates and incumbents establish new strategies.

Looking at the current polls in that light, it seems both GOP front runners and the Democratic incumbent have reasons to be happy and reasons to worry.

For President Obama, almost every poll still shows him winning head to head races with any of the GOP candidates. The good news for him is that even though his approval ratings are low, he’s not fighting from behind, yet.

The bad news for Obama is that even though he is leading in almost every poll, he’s within the margin of error on many of them and in Virginia, a key swing state, he’s currently losing. The other bad news for Obama is that he’s fighting a two front war with two different GOP frontrunners that seem to both be making headway against him.

One frontrunner will eventually rise to the top, but until then, Obama’s campaign and the 527’s that support him, will have to attack more than one GOP candidate.

For Mitt Romney, the fact that some polls show him doing better than Governor Rick Perry shows that he’s stopped the bleeding from August when Perry walked into the race and directly into the frontrunner position, as if Romney never existed. Romney can also take solace that he’s doing better than Perry in the more moderate and progressive states. If the GOP wants to go with the candidate that can compete with Obama in the middle, polls show that he seems to have secured that position.

The bad news for Romney is that after Perry had one of the worst weeks of his short campaign, he’s still leading in many GOP polls. Also, while Romney is doing well in California, Perry is taking the lead over Obama in Virginia, a key swing state. GOP insiders may feel that the real candidate who can take on Obama in purple states isn’t the one trying to go to the middle, but the one brazenly staying right.

For Governor Rick Perry, the recent polling showing him doing well in the GOP Primary race is the good news. He’s ahead of Romney in many polls, even after the aforementioned awful week in his campaign. If what doesn’t kill us truly makes us stronger, this last week should definitely make Perry stronger.

The bad news for Perry is that he basically let Romney back into the race after quickly overtaking him when Perry entered the race a few weeks back. Perry was on the verge of making this a clear one man race, but even though his bad week didn’t kill him, it didn’t do him many favors.

Polling usually focuses on the future, but when we look at how recent polling has reflected the recent past for the three major candidates, no offense to Herman Cain, we see that polling is about the past as much as it is about the future.

The interesting thing to watch will be what these three candidates will do with this information about the past, and how that will affect their future.
About The Blogger

- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.

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