President Obama has overtaken Mitt Romney in the 12 swing states that will be critical in determining the outcome of the 2012 election, according to a Purple Insights poll released Friday.
Obama leads with 49 percent support over Romney at 44. That’s a 6-percentage-point swing from the same poll in August, before either party held their conventions, which showed Romney with a 1-point advantage. It’s also the largest lead either candidate has had since Purple Insights began the survey last September.
The president is buoyed in the poll by his support among independents. Obama leads 48 to 43 percent, his first lead with the group since February.
Romney was dogged by an historically low favorability rating throughout the primaries, and while he saw some improvement in the August Purple poll, his favorability has sunk. Only 38 percent said they view Romney favorably, against 52 percent unfavorable.
Obama’s favorability isn’t great, but he’s above water, at 49 percent favorable and 46 percent unfavorable.
Purple Insights broke out polling in six of the individual swing states, where the race remains close — Obama leads by 4 in Ohio, 3 in Colorado and Virginia, and 2 in North Carolina, while Romney leads by 1 in Florida.
But perhaps most startling was the poll’s findings in Arizona, where Romney has a narrow 48 to 45 percent lead. Most analysts consider Arizona to be safely in Romney’s corner, and neither candidate has spent any significant time campaigning in the state.
Arizona has only gone for the Democratic presidential candidate once since 1952, and Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainBiden falters in pledge to strengthen US alliances 20 years after 9/11, US foreign policy still struggles for balance What the chaos in Afghanistan can remind us about the importance of protecting democracy at home MORE (R-Ariz.) won his home state easily over Obama in the 2008 election, 54 to 45 percent.
Still, Arizona has a growing Latino population, and many believe the shifting demographics will one day play in favor of Democrats. A Reason-Rupe poll released on Friday showed Obama with a 71 to 18 percent advantage over Romney among Hispanics.
The Purple Insights poll comes on the heels of a Gallup survey released Thursday that showed enthusiasm by Democratic voters in swing states to have risen sharply in recent months.
Gallup polled the 12 battleground states — Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire — that former President George W. Bush won in 2004 but Obama won in 2008.
The survey found that 73 percent of Democratic voters in those states are extremely enthusiastic about the election, up from 53 percent in late June. Among Republicans, 64 percent now say they are very enthusiastic, compared to 55 percent in late June.
In addition, Gallup found that trend wasn’t specific to the swing states — enthusiasm among all U.S. voters jumped from 43 to 55 percent, with Democrats outpacing Republicans by 9 percentage points nationwide. Democrats gained 19 points in enthusiasm, from 49 to 68 percent, compared to a 10-point gain for Republicans, from 52 to 62 percent.
While the national polls remain tight, Obama seems to be sustaining his slight lead in the swing states across the board.
According to the Real Clear Politics average of polls, Obama leads by 10 in New Mexico, 8 in Michigan and Pennsylvania, 7 in Wisconsin, 5 in Ohio and Virginia, 2 in Florida, Nevada and New Hampshire, and by 1 in Colorado.
Romney leads by 5 in North Carolina, and Iowa is a tie.
The Purple Insights poll of 1,000 likely voters was conducted between Sept. 15 and Sept. 19, and has a 3 to 4 percent margin of error.