Romney losing lead among men

Mitt Romney’s advantage among male voters has all but disappeared since the Democratic National Convention. 

The pattern will likely spell doom for Romney unless it represents an entirely transient “bump” for President Obama — which it might.

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Several polls released in recent days show Obama displaying new strength among male voters. Romney needs to win the male electorate by a wide margin to overcome the chronic disadvantage the GOP faces with respect to women.

A CNN poll released Monday showed Obama moving into a small lead among men, besting Romney 48 percent to 47. The finding was especially notable because CNN, in a poll conducted about a week prior, had shown Romney holding a 12-point lead among men (55 percent to 43).

On Tuesday, an ABC News/Washington Post poll found Obama enjoying a 3-point edge among men.

In a memo accompanying the poll’s release, its authors, Langer Research Associates, noted that “Obama’s support has reached a new high among men” — higher than at any point during this election cycle.

In addition, a new poll from the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling organization found that Obama has a 1-point lead among men, taking 47 percent to Romney’s 46.

Democrats are delighted with those numbers.

“If that holds, there’s no way Romney can win,” said Bob Shrum, the longtime Democratic strategist who ran Sen. John Kerry’s (D-Mass.) 2004 bid for the White House.

The Romney campaign has been pushing back hard against the polls in recent days. On Monday, it circulated a memo from its in-house pollster, Neil Newhouse, asserting that no one should “get too worked up about the latest polling” and characterizing the boost Obama is enjoying as a “sugar-high.”

On Tuesday, a Romney campaign aide told The Hill that the shift in male voting intentions was part of the same pattern. “He got a temporary boost that shouldn’t last long,” the aide argued.

Still, even Republicans who think that those predictions will ultimately prove true admit their worries about the current state of play.

“It’s definitely a concern,” said Dan Judy, a vice president at North Star Opinion Research, a GOP firm. “Men, and especially white men, are a core constituency for Republicans, especially in swing states. Romney’s got to run up big, big margins with them.”

One case in point is the 2004 presidential election. Kerry beat President George W. Bush by 3 percentage points among female voters (51 percent to 48), according to exit polls. But Bush prevailed by winning male voters by a whopping 11-point margin (55-44).

In 2008, Obama won the female vote by 13 percentage points (56-43) over his Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.). By comparison, he edged McCain by just a single point among men overall (49-48), and lost white men by 16 percentage points. 

Reasons for the recent shift are not entirely clear. 

Some commentators point to the tone of the Democratic National Convention as, in parts, having particular appeal to men. Democratic strategist James Carville told CNN that Obama’s own speech was “muscular,” perhaps alluding to its sharp attacks on Romney on matters of foreign policy.

Former President Clinton, Vice President Biden and Kerry sought to paint Obama as strong and decisive — and, at times, attacked Romney and the Republicans as effete.

Obama, Biden testified, “has courage in his soul, compassion in his heart and steel in his spine.”

“Ask Osama bin Laden if he is better off now than he was four years ago,” Kerry said during his speech, in which he also said, “It isn’t fair to say that Mitt Romney doesn’t have a position on Afghanistan. He has every position.”

Judy said he was not surprised to see the Democrats trying to seize the national-security mantle “because there are not a whole lot of areas where Barack Obama can point to his record. Every time Democrats talk about [the bin Laden operation] is time they don’t have to spend talking about the economy, or ObamaCare, or a lot of other things that are not so popular.”

Judy argued that, once memories of the conventions begin to fade, the electorate will focus again on the economy. This, he asserted, would be to Romney’s benefit.

For the moment, however, Democrats are very happy with where things stand. And one of the more recent attempts for Romney to boost his machismo — the appearance by Clint Eastwood at the Republican convention — only broadened their smiles.

“I thought that was awful,” Shrum said. “It was embarrassing for Eastwood; it ate into Romney’s time. I mean, that just wasn’t serious.”