Today we are releasing our latest survey, a cooperative endeavor conducted with Democracy Corps for National Public Radio. Greenberg Quinlan Rosner conducted the calls September 26-30, 2012, and compiled the data. The survey polled 800 registered voters nationally, plus an oversample in 12 battleground states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin. The sample contains 7 percentage points more Democrats than Republicans, 37 percent Democrat and 30 percent Republican. With full results available at resurgentrepublic.com, the following are key highlights:
The Republican candidate says: Barack Obama's economic policies have failed, and it's time to try something different. Unemployment remains at record levels, job creation is poor, federal spending is out of control, and much of the country is still in recession. Middle class incomes are down, and his health care law raised taxes on middle class families. His stimulus package failed to create the jobs he said it would, wasted billions of dollars on pork barrel projects at home, and spent American taxpayer dollars creating jobs overseas in countries like China.
The Democratic candidate says: We're fighting to make sure our economy works for the middle class. Mitt Romney said he doesn't care about the 47 percent and that includes a lot of veterans, the elderly, and low-wage working people. He'd raise taxes on the middle class to give millionaires a yet bigger tax cut. But we tried that top-down approach. More tax cuts for the rich and outsourcing American jobs doesn't work. Instead, let's protect Medicare, invest in education and reward companies that create jobs here.
Voters overall prefer the Democratic statement by 53 to 42 percent. But among critical Independents, the Republican argument wins by 52 to 44 percent, or 4 points more than the margin by which Independents currently prefer Romney over Obama.
In May Resurgent Republic tested two arguments, one arguing that "President Obama's economic plan is working and we need to stay the course. . ." versus "President Obama's economic plan is not working and we need to try something different. . ." "Try something different" was preferred over "stay the course" by 55 to 40 percent among all voters, and 63 to 32 percent among Independents. Obama's campaign team apparently saw similar numbers, which is why they changed their argument to be essentially anti-Romney rather than pro-Obama.
That reinforces our fundamental argument about this election: Obama cannot win a referendum on his record; his only hope for reelection is to so thoroughly trash Mitt Romney that Romney becomes an unacceptable alternative. If Romney can slip that punch, Obama is in trouble.
The Republican candidate says: America's standing in the world today is worse than when Barack Obama took office. His first foreign policy act was to travel the world apologizing for past American actions, rather than promoting American values. He has refused to side with democratic movements in Iran and Syria. Perception of American weakness has emboldened our enemies and led to attacks on American embassies. Obama has insulted one of our closest allies by refusing to meet with the Prime Minister of Israel. Obama's doctrine of "leading from behind" is not leading at all.
The Democratic candidate says: Our country is safer because we took out dozens of top Al-Qaeda terrorists and Osama bin Laden - and our enemies know we're dead serious. We've sustained our military and critical help for our veterans. But we also worked with our allies to bring change in Libya and Egypt without troops and got our troops out of Iraq and soon in Afghanistan. But Mitt Romney opposed ending the Iraq war and a deadline in Afghanistan - and plans a massive increase in military spending. I believe it's time to rebuild our country.
Voters prefer the Democratic argument overall by 50 to 42 percent, while Independents split evenly at 44 percent for each argument. While any candidate for President must demonstrate familiarity and ease with foreign policy, Republicans will never paint the man who ordered the mission that took out the world's most wanted terrorist as weak. Romney's best argument against Obama remains the economy rather than foreign policy.
The Presidential contest remains very close going into the first debate. Obama retains a small lead, but the size of that lead depends on assumptions about the Democratic advantage over Republicans in the ultimate 2012 electorate. Depending on the course of the campaign over the remaining five weeks, either candidate could reasonably win.
This survey of 800 registered voters nationally, plus an oversample to reach a total of 426 battleground-state voters, was conducted jointly by Resurgent Republic and Democracy Corps September 26-30, 2012. Calls were conducted and data produced by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner. Respondents were selected randomly from a random-digit-dialing sample including both cellular and landline telephone numbers, and were contacted by live interviewers. All respondents confirmed that they are registered to vote in the county in which they live. Quotas were set for state, age, and race based on state registration and previous turnout. By party the sample is 37 percent Democrat, 32 percent Independent, and 30 percent Republican.