Obama Widens Lead in Two Biggest Swing States

President Obama has widened his lead in the two biggest swing states, Florida and Ohio, according to new polls by The New York Times and the Washington Post. Obama leads in Ohio by 10 points and in Florida by 9 percentage points.

“In Ohio — which no Republican has won the presidency without — Mr. Obama is leading Mr. Romney 53 percent to 43 percent in the poll,” the Times/CBS News poll found. “In Florida, the president leads Mr. Romney 53 to 44 percent in the poll.”

The Romney campaign replied that it doesn’t trust media polls and has its own data.

“I will put our operation up against anybody’s,” Romney campaign manager Rick Beeson told NBC late yesterday after a Washington Post poll also found Obama leading in Ohio. “At the end of the day, Ohio is going to come down to the wire and we’ll be in it down to the wire and I’m confident that we will win.”

The Times/CBS News poll comes as both Romney and Obama are in Ohio on Wednesday for two days of bus tours and rallies across the state. As everyone who has followed the campaign knows, Obama is saying that Ohio and the U.S. are slowly recovering from the economic doldrums caused by Wall Street’s excesses before he took office, and Romney is saying the president has failed as the job-creator-in-chief and with his foreign policy.

But there seems to be more behind Obama’s rise in the polls. In Ohio and Florida, August unemployment figures—the latest out—found those state’s jobless rates remained steady. In Ohio, the recovery of the auto industry and the opening up of the depressed eastern part of the state to natural gas fracking operations has also boosted local economies. 

Another factor in the latest poll numbers is Obama campaign apparently has spent much more on its television advertising in these states than Romney campaign in recent weeks, according to several new media analyses published Wednesday.     

“A review of political ad contracts with broadcast television stations in the top five media markets in Florida -- Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, Tampa and West Palm Beach -- and the top three markets in Ohio -- Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus -- show Obama's campaign running 10,000 more ads than Romney's campaign from the beginning of August through the middle of September,” The Huffington Post reported Wednesday. “We counted ad contracts that started any time between Aug. 1 and Sept. 19, 2012.”

The Obama campaign stayed ahead of Romney in Florida as well, the HuffPost reported. “In August, the two campaigns were running nearly even, with 4,490 ads for Obama and 4,262 ads for Romney. But a major gap opened up in September, as Obama ran 6,370 ads on contracts signed through Sept. 19 while Romney ran only 3,599.”

One of the reasons that Obama has managed to stay ahead in 2012’s advertising wars is that the outside groups created in the wake of Citizens United—such as those run by Karl Rove—have not been spending as much in these states in recent weeks as they did earlier in the race. Because they are not official campaigns, they are not given the lowest rate possible—which televisions stations are required to do for campaigns—but instead are paying top dollar, as explained in this new Columbia Journalism Review article.  

That CJR analysis notes that there are big disparities in the advertising figures used by the media—where some cite the Federal Election Commission reports and others cite Kantar Media, a private company. The biggest difference is Kantar counts the ads and money that is spent, while the FEC reports count the money that is budgeted to be spent—and media consultant fees. With that difference in mind, it appears that the GOP’s top dark money groups—dark because  they’re flouting campaign contribution limit and disclosure laws that campaigns are required to follow—have upwards of $40 million in the bank left to spend, while the Democrat’s top dark money group has $12 million.

Of course, voters can only be persuaded by campaign ads if they are not paying attention to what the candidates have been saying. And with the Romney campaign making what seems like an endless string of offensive and bewildering statements, it is not surprising that Obama is rising in the polls by appearing more presidential.   


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