Many state’s have one reporter that stands out among all others reporting on local politics. In Wisconsin there is Craig Gilbert, Nevada has Jon Ralston and Iowa has Jennifer Jacobs. Easily the very best articles on the state have been penned by her and below is her detailed look at the recent Iowa Poll published in the Des Moines Register showing Obama with a 4-point lead but plenty of opportunity for Romney:
The election is all about an economy that Iowa voters think President Barack Obama has done too little to fix. A Des Moines Register Iowa Poll shows Obama is ahead in Iowa 49 percent to 45 percent. But if Mitt Romney can convince voters that he truly knows how to doctor the nation’s ailing economy, the GOP presidential candidate can still put Iowa in his pocket, political analysts say. Half of Iowa adults disapprove of the job the Democratic president is doing on the economy, an issue that 59 percent of likely voters here rank as one of the most important, the poll found. Romney has built his campaign on the argument that his business knowledge, gained in building the private equity firm Bain Capital, better equips him than Obama to create jobs. Likely Iowa voters agree by a hefty 25 percentage points that the Republican nominee would better care for the needs of businesses. “The numbers are striking — that’s his opportunity that he’s not cashed in on,” said the Register’s pollster, J. Ann Selzer. “It’s just a huge opportunity.” But so far they’re not convinced Romney will do a better job of shoring up the economy. He trails slightly (47 percent to 46 percent) in voters’ perception of who would be the better economy fixer. The news from battleground Iowa, whose six electoral votes are a vital puzzle piece in the journey to 270, means there’s even more pressure on Romney to make a slam dunk case for his economic prowess during three presidential debates this fall. In the first debate, on Wednesday, three of six segments will focus on the economy.
Paul Ryan trumps Joe Biden
Another noteworthy finding: Although Iowa’s likely voters give Obama the nod at the top of the ticket, a strong majority believe Romney’s running mate, budget-and-deficit repairman Paul Ryan, is an asset. More likely voters think Vice President Joe Biden is a liability to the ticket than a lift.
Saturation campaigning and ads have voters attention
Thirty-seven days from Election Day, Iowa has few undecided voters left — just 2 percent. But 10 percent of likely voters say they could still change their minds. Of that group, more than half are independent voters.
Feeling better about Obama
As federal debt grows, gridlock confounds Congress, trouble spots heat up around the world and joblessness remains high, Iowans are feeling more optimistic. And for the first time in three years, Obama’s job approval in Iowa is above water. Seven months ago, Iowa was a trouble spot for Obama. More Iowa adults disapproved of the job he was doing as president (48 percent) than approved (46 percent). In hypothetical head-to-head matchups in mid-February, Obama trailed a trio of GOP candidates, including Romney, in the wake of intensive Republican messaging throughout the caucuses. Obama has mounted a vigorous counterattack: 10 days of campaigning in Iowa this year, 67 campaign offices opened, a successful Democratic convention and more than $13 million in TV ads here. The president’s job approval is nowhere close to his Iowa high of 68 percent shortly after he took office. But he has crossed a symbolic point crucial for re-election: More Iowans think he’s doing a good job as president (51 percent) than a bad job (47 percent).
Country on the wrong track, but …
Most Iowans, 54 percent, continue to believe the nation is on the wrong track, the poll found. But those who think the country is going in the right direction have increased by 10 percentage points since February. “When 10 percent more people think the country is headed in the right direction, that’s 10 percent less who feel the need for a change,” Castellanos said. It’s a big uptick, from 30 percent to 40 percent, even though the economy has remained sluggish. The government released revised growth statistics last week, downgrading second quarter growth from 1.7 percent to 1.3 percent. Strategists said there’s still wiggle room for attitudes about the economy to change. Two monthly jobs reports remain before Election Day and four debates — three presidential and one vice presidential. The fact that Iowans’ optimism has shifted so much since February signals how much voters can be moved, strategists said.
- Obama leads Romney by 6 or more percentage points in voters’ perceptions of his ability to determine the future of Medicare, health care and tax policy, and to handle relations with other countries as well as military engagement in Afghanistan and tension in the Middle East.
- Among all Iowans, 50 percent approve of Obama’s work on relations with other countries, but he has ticked down a couple of points since February, possibly tied to unrest in Libya or his positions on Israeli-Palestinian peace.
- Meanwhile, he’s upside down on his job approval on health care and the economy. Obamacare is not helping him, but perceptions have improved since February.
- So have opinions about his handling of the economy, up 7 percentage points since February, to 45 percent. Those gains helped push him to positive territory in overall job approval.
- Romney’s big issue advantage: He has opened an 11-point lead in perceptions of his ability to reduce the federal deficit, one of the most important issues to 27 percent of likely voters, ranking third behind health care (31 percent). The economy leads the list by far (59 percent).
- But among independent voters, Romney has a 5-point lead on the economy, and a 12-point lead on the deficit. If he can continue to drive that message, there’s opportunity to shake loose persuadable independents, strategists said.
Get out the vote
The Obama campaign is heavily focused on early voting, which began here last week. Its goal is to build a margin before Election Day, when Republicans tend to turn out more heavily than Democrats, strategists said.