The US polls

The Herald on Sunday has a piece by Jack Tame on the US presidential race. It makes it sound hopeless for Mitt Romney:

He’s a corporate Ned Flanders. Polished, handsome enough, religious and so very wholesome – the kind of guy you wouldn’t take to Vegas.

Many will say it’s what America needs, that in a time of economic insecurity, policy should triumph over personality. The problem for Romney is, that’s not how politics work.

A lot of Americans simply don’t like him. Women, African-Americans, Hispanics, even far-right Republicans and Evangelical Christians say they will struggle to support their party’s own nominee.

The female vote is of particular concern. An ABC poll this week had Romney 19 points behind Obama among female voters. He has been tarred by the controversial birth control policies of the ultra-right and many female voters say Obama has a better understanding of women’s issues.

Romney’s African-American support isn’t much better. Facing America’s first black President he wouldn’t realistically have expected a large percentage of the black vote, but he might have tried. There are no high-ranking African-American staff on his campaign, and he has had few endorsements from high-profile black politicians.

Support among Hispanics, who make up 10 per cent of eligible voters, is now almost as grim. By way of a particularly unscientific and completely unrepresentative poll, I popped into a Spanish Harlem laundromat on the day of Santorum’s withdrawal, and ended up chatting with the Mexican proprietor.

“Amigo!” he said.

“Amigo!” I said.

“So … Mitt Romney or Barack Obama? Who do you want to be president?” I asked.

“With Obama, nothing has become better,” he said, “but I’ll still vote for him.”

Among Latin voters, polls have Obama as much as five times more popular than his counterpart-to-be.

So what do the current polls show?

Pollster has Romney and Obama both tied at 45.2%. Not bad for someone no-one likes. Pollster (which averages all the public polls) finds Romney has 46.7% unfavourability, and Obama has 46.1% unfavourability. So where are the stories on how unpopular Obama is?

Now don’t get me wrong. Obama is the favourite to win at this stage, but this article suggests the gap is huge, and Romney is doing very badly.

Traditionally all republican candidates do worse amongst women. The historical average is around 12%, so the current gap of 19% is greater. And no Republican candidate has ever had significant African-American or even Hispanic support.

Romney leads Obama by 26% amongst white men. That is not enough to win, but helps counter the weaknesses in other areas. Obama and Romney are neck and neck amongst white women, and that is the likely battleground.

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