Poll: Obama widens lead over Romney in Iowa

The poll, from Democratic outfit Public Policy Polling, gives Obama 51-percent support to Romney's 44-percent support, an increase in his lead by five percentage points since the last PPP poll of the state.


That may be due to Romney's declining favor with voters in the state: Forty percent of voters view him favorably, down from 47 percent in August, and 55 percent view him negatively, up from 48 percent in August.

Obama's approval went from underwater in the last poll to slightly positive, with 49 percent of likely Iowa voters viewing him favorably and 48 percent viewing him negatively.

Obama leads every demographic and age group and is cementing his support among Democrats, receiving 91 percent of their backing, up from 87 percent in August. The PPP poll also indicates that enthusiasm is higher among Democrats than Republicans, as 62 percent of Democrats say they're "very excited" to vote, compared to 55 percent of Republicans.

And the poll indicates that Romney's "47 percent" comments may be hurting him in Iowa. Fifty-one percent of voters in Iowa consider the comments to be inappropriate and 42 percent of voters say the comments made them less likely to vote for him.

But it's not just Romney's widely-publicized comments that could be causing him trouble in Iowa -- the energy industry, which accounts for a large number of jobs in the state, has become a focus for both campaigns there.

Energy issues featured prominently in a pair of Obama Iowa campaign stops — including a three-day statewide tour — in the summer.

In Iowa, Obama has sought to exploit Romney’s opposition to a crucial wind energy incentive. Romney favors letting the 2.2-cent-per-kilowatt-hour credit for wind power production expire as scheduled on Dec. 31. Obama has said he supports extending the incentive.

That could be a key issue in Iowa, where the wind energy sector employs more than 6,000 people. The state also has the second-largest wind electricity generating capacity in the nation.

The biofuels industry is also a significant player in Iowa, and both Obama and Romney have reiterated support for the industry in appearances there.

Iowa is a major producer of corn-based ethanol, which comprises about 10 percent of transportation fuel sold in the country.

Lawmakers have upped attacks on a rule that is credited with creating a national biofuels market, which has sent the biofuels industry looking for support from the presidential candidates.

Romney said in his energy platform that he supports keeping the rule intact. The Obama administration also has been supportive, biofuels industry representatives say.

The poll was conducted among 754 likely Iowa voters from Sept. 24-26 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.