Swing-state polls: Obama leads in Michigan, Pennsylvania

Obama leads big over Romney in Michigan, 53 to 39. That could be an outlier — it’s well outside the Real Clear Politics average of polls that shows Obama leading by only 1.7 percentage points in the Wolverine State.

A Mitchell Research poll released this week showed Romney with a 1 point lead in Michigan, while a survey from conservative polling outlet Rasmussen showed Obama with a 6 point lead. Contributing to Obama’s lead in the PPP poll is his surprising 48 to 44 lead over Romney among white voters.

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Obama once had a commanding lead over Romney in Michigan, up by double digits as recently as mid-May, according to the Real Clear Politics average of polls.

Romney has since closed the gap in most surveys, but the historically low favorability ratings that dogged him throughout the Republican primaries continue to be an issue for him in his former home-state. Only 38 percent of Michigan voters have a favorable view of Romney, compared to 55 unfavorable. Romney’s father, George Romney, was once governor of Michigan, and Romney spent his childhood there. 

However, many don't believe the former Massachusetts governor will devote significant resources to a state that until recently looked to be out of reach. Obama won the state by 16 points in 2008, while Romney barely won its Republican primary earlier this year. Romney edged competitor Rick Santorum by 3 percentage points in the primary, but effectively split the delegate count with him. At the time, many called it a blown opportunity for the former Pennsylvania senator.

PPP also finds Obama leading Romney 49 to 43 in Pennsylvania, which is exactly in line with the Real Clear Politics average of polls. Obama is plagued by a negative job approval rating in the Keystone State, where 46 percent approve of his performance, against 50 who disapprove.

But the poll shows Romney failing to capitalize on the president's underwater rating, again. In Pennsylvania, only 39 percent have a favorable view of Romney, against 51 unfavorable.

One potential game-changer in both states would be the addition of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as Romney’s running mate. Earlier this month the Drudge Report said she had emerged as a surprise front-runner for Romney's vice presidential nomination.

With Rice on the ticket, Obama and Romney would be tied 45 to 45 in Pennsylvania, and she would close the gap in Michigan by almost half, to 50 to 42. Unlike Romney, Rice is viewed with overwhelming favorability in both states, 60 to 27 in Pennsylvania and 56 to 28 in Michigan.

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