Romney Surge Showing Up In Ohio, Pennsylvania, And Michigan

Mitt Romney’s surge appears to be showing up in several Midwestern states where, before the debate, it had appeared that his chances were fairly low.

First up, there’s Michigan where a poll for the Detroit Free Press finds Romney within two points of the President:

LANSING — Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s strong performance in his first debate with President Barack Obama helped him trim Obama’s lead in Michigan to three percentage points, a poll released today to the Free Press shows.

Obama’s 10 percentage point lead (47%-37%) in a poll conducted last month by EPIC-MRA of Lansing dropped to 3 points (48% to 45%), according to the poll of 600 likely voters conducted by EPIC-MRA of Lansing. The gap between Romney and Obama was within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Undecided voters shrank from the September survey’s 16% to just 7%.

EPIC’s September poll and others last month appeared to put Michigan out of reach for Romney, a native son.

“Romney has come back like gangbusters,” said EPIC-MRA President Bernie Porn. “Whether or not it’s long-lasting, only time will tell, but probably the remaining debates will be key.”

Another Michigan poll, from a Democratic pollster, has Obama ahead by just three points.  By contrast, polls by We Ask America and Rasmussen in September had the President leading by twelve points in the Wolverine State.

Across the border in Ohio, we have two new polls. One from a Columbus NBC affiliate that has the President leading Romney by 45% to 44%, and another from ARG that shows Romney leading 48% to 47%.

Finally, though technically not a Midwestern state, we have surprising news out of Pennsylvania:

Barack Obama leads Mitt Romney by a 2 point margin, identical to his lead in late September according to Susquehanna Polling and Research. But the Republican’s debate performance contributed to a 6 point jump in his favorability rating.

In a poll conducted just after the first presidential debate, from Oct. 4 to 6, 47 percent of respondents said they support Obama; 45 percent support Romney. 3 percent support Libertarian Gary Johnson.

The Obama-Romney head-to-head numbers are identical the most recent Susquehanna Polling and Research survey released on Sept. 23. The margin of that poll, commissioned by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review closely resemble that of another SP&R survey conducted for the Pa. Republican party which showed Obama at a 48 percent to 47 advantage.

When the undecided voters leaning towards a candidate are factored in (breaking 3:1 for Romney), the race narrows to a 1-point Obama lead, 47 percent to 46.

It’s worth noting that this poll was showing the race in Pennsylvania as close last month when other pollsters were showing the President with a comfortable lead, so these numbers may not be entirely accurate. Nonetheless, it does appear that Governor Romney’s debate bounce has started to filter down to the states as we sit here four weeks out from Election Day.

Update: Another poll of Pennsylvania from Siena Research Institute [PDF] puts the race at Obama 43% Romney 40%.

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Septimius says:

    But, but, but…will it matter???

  2. Fiona says:


  3. stonetools says:

    Well, I think there is now no doubt that Obama’s failure at the debate was by far the biggest mistake of the campaign. No need to hammer it in with a nail.
    The question is, what can Obama do to stanch the bleeding. Debate better next time, I guess. Obama should just lock himself in a room and unless aliens land on the White House front lawn, it should be debate prep,all the time.

  4. PD Shaw says:

    @stonetools: As someone who didn’t think Obama did that bad (or that Romney did that great), I’ve concluded that the response has been much ado about expectations. People (or the Press) mistakenly thought Obama’s skills included debating. Romney apparently was successfully characterized as an empty suit. I’m not sure you get a redo on expectations. (My expectations were influenced by James Fallows’ article)

  5. PD Shaw says:

    Parts of Pennsylvania are considered Midwestern.

  6. Geek, Esq. says:

    So much for the “but he has the edge in the electoral college” argument.

    Except in the case of 2000, losing the popular vote means losing the swing states.

    Every single factor points is trending towards a Romney victory now.

    Obama was never in this situation against Clinton–the staggered primary structure meant that it was really only one state at a time until Super Tuesday.

    He never faced this kind of headwind in 2008. And he was a VASTLY superior candidate in 2008. And McCain was a much less formidable opponent.

    It’s possible for this to turn around. 2008 Obama might have found a way, but not the feckless and uninspired 2012 version.

    Prediction: Romney 50.3%, Obama 48.4%, EV Romney 301 Obama 237.

    Jimmy Carter will be insulted by comparisons to Obama.

  7. wr says:

    @Geek, Esq.: So, Jenos, what made you decide to dress up as a Democrat and play concern troll? And whatever happened to Hoot? I kind of liked him.

  8. Geek, Esq. says:


    No, I’m no such thing. I’m seeing a candidate who is (a) behind and (b) without a cohesive rationale for his candidacy.

    I actually volunteered for Obama in the Iowa caucuses in 2008–and man do I regret that now. Hillary had her own set of weaknesses, but nothing this bad.

  9. PJ says:

    @Geek, Esq.:

    I actually volunteered for Obama in the Iowa caucuses in 2008–and man do I regret that now. Hillary had her own set of weaknesses, but nothing this bad.

    Concern troll is concerned.

  10. Geek, Esq. says:

    Yes, you’re right. The Obama campaign is firing on all cylinders, 11 dimensional chess, rope a dope, etc.

    Obama handed the White House over to Romney, and the result will be slashed Medicaid, a massive increase in the suffering of the poor, and a war with Iran.

    Because he’d rather do stuff like photo ops at Hoover Dam than debate prep.

  11. Geek, Esq. says:

    By the way, when’s the last time a candidate trailing in all major national polls 4 weeks out won the Presidency?

    Bush was never in this bad of shape against Kerry. There would be a random poll or two showing a dead heat, but Kerry never lead after the conventions.

  12. Curtis says:

    I think the real key is the behavior of the campaigns. Romney is doubling his ad buy in Ohio, thinking that it is back in play again. Unless there is similar activity in Michigan and Pennsylvania – I am not aware of any yet – I wouldn’t worry too much about those.

    I look at Ohio as being necessary, but not sufficient, for Romney. Romney could carry Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida, and still not win if Obama holds on to the western and midwestern states where he has been solidly ahead since Romney secured the nomination.

    Definitely there is a bounce from the debate and a tightening, but I don’t think it is panic time yet.

  13. PD Shaw says:

    @Curtis: The ad buys raise an interesting question. My understanding is that Romney had extensive ads running in Michigan this summer, but stopped about a month ago. Now, he’s closing the gap?

    I think most of this advertising is overrated. The debates and the VP selection moved numbers because they had some reality to them. More advertising won’t change anything IMHO unless there something meaningful to say.

  14. Geek, Esq. says:

    You won’t see either campaign put serious ad money into MI and PA for the same reason you didn’t see them putting serious money into Missouri in 2008 or McCain putting money into NC and IN.

    If Obama’s in danger of losing MI and PA, it means he’s certain to lose the general election. They are not “tipping point” states to use Nate Silver’s term.

  15. Buzz Buzz says:

    So, Jenos, what made you decide to dress up as a Democrat and play concern troll? And whatever happened to Hoot? I kind of liked him.

    No, I’m no such thing. I’m seeing a candidate who is (a) behind and (b) without a cohesive rationale for his candidacy.

    Concern troll is concerned.

    The projectionist propaganda of chronic sockpuppet jukeboxgrad / “TomJ” / “Dave” / “Tom J.” / “slimslowslider” / etc. blossoms into its full rancid fruition.

    As the Obama campaign continues to collapse, paranoia and recriminations become standard fare as the drones sting each other to death trying to prove their loyalty Inside The Hive ™.

  16. slimslowslider says:

    I am not Jukeboxgrad™, but I am flattered you remember me™, Buzz Buzz™

  17. Geek, Esq. says:

    On the other hand, Obama up 51-47 in Ohio per CNN. Much bigger margin amongst registered voters (53-43).

    Difficult to overstate how big it would be for Obama to hold on to a decent lead there.

  18. SKI says:

    Timing. Lets see if the next set also mirrors the tracking polls such that the surge receded starting on the 7th.

  19. SKI,

    I agree. I am as skeptical of these polls as I was of the initial polling after the Democratic convention showing Obama surging. The question is how long this lasts, and whether it filters down to the swing states.

  20. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Buzz Buzz: If this is so reductionist and cultish to you, why do you come? I come for the comic relief as I am currently living outside the echo chamber. What’s your rationale? Evangelism?

  21. Rick Almeida says:

    Romney is surging so hard in PA that he’s stopped running ads there.