The poll indicates that voter sentiment among Republicans is rising in the battleground states, while Democrats in those states are increasingly discouraged and detached.
The poll assumed Obama would start with 196 electoral votes, while his Republican opponent would start with 191. Candidates need 270 electoral votes to win the White House. According to these assumptions, Obama would need to win about half of the 151 electoral votes supplied by Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin in order to secure a second term.
The president currently trails Romney 43 percent to 48 percent in the 12 swing states and trails Gingrich 45 percent to 48 percent.
Nationwide, the president fares better against both candidates, leading Gingrich 50 percent to 44 percent and edging Romney 47 percent to 46 percent.
However, the poll also shows a growing Republican base in contrast to a shrinking number of Democrats.
Those who identify as Democrats in the swing states fell by 4 points since 2008, compared to a 5 point increase in voters who say they lean Republican.
And although it may be a product of a heated GOP primary, Republican voters are also paying more attention to the election than Democratic voters 69 percent to 48 percent.
The enthusiasm gap is another troubling spot for the Obama campaign; the fervor of Democrats and independents in the 2008 election helped propel him into the White House.
Here too the Republicans hold a double-digit lead, with 61 percent saying they are extremely or very enthusiastic about voting for president compared to only 47 percent of Democrats.
A portion of the president’s base, the minorities and young voters who were integral to Obama’s 2008 election, are among the least enthusiastic about voting in 2012. Meanwhile older voters, who have contributed to Newt Gingrich’s wide lead in Florida, are among the most enthusiastic Republican voters.
The Obama campaign has its work cut out for it to reverse these trends, but some Republicans are already criticizing the president, saying that he is intertwining campaigning and governing in the battleground states on the taxpayer’s dime.
White House spokesman Jay Carney has fought back against these allegations, saying the president “expanded the political map dramatically,” and states including Virginia and North Carolina, which were not considered battleground states when former president George W. Bush visited them in 2003, are now in play for Democrats.