In the eight polls being carried in the RealClearPolitics.com national polling average on May 23, Obama leads in five and Romney leads in two, with one tie. The current average has Obama ahead by two, but it was tied as recently as May 8, and has closed from a spread of 5 to 6 points in February and March.
Some factors that have tightened the race:
- With his nomination in sight (more than 1,144 needed on or before the June 5 primaries), Romney’s Republican and conservative support is consolidating. Plus, there are no Republican ads or candidates criticizing him.
Obama is on the attack with ads to make up for drop off in Republican anti-Romney ads.
- The economy remains in a very slow recovery, with bad signals from Europe. A recession there could cause negative third-quarter growth here and a collapse of support for Obama’s re-election.
Obama and Romney are tied 47 percent each on who’s best to fix the economy. (Washington Post/NBC poll)
Obama is now lobbying for stimulus and not austerity in Europe.
- Obama’s high-profile gay marriage endorsement raised a social issue with little public opinion upside and considerable controversy. Liberal activists cheered, but it reinforces that he is more liberal than the electorate he wants to lead.
The timing and reports that Obama needed to encourage fundraising from George Clooney’s Hollywood contributors has led to cynicism about the timing of his endorsement.
- Romney is meeting or exceeding Obama’s fundraising totals, which is neutralizing what was a big Democratic advantage over John McCain in 2008.
Obama’s massive ground game has a financial burn rate that may not be sustainable. This year’s level of volunteerism is not equal to 2008, and will not make up for cut backs caused by money shortages.