New Hampshire's Virtual Town Hall
By Paul Briand
Yes, it’s the economy, stupid.
But, as a new WMUR Granite State poll shows, it’s also the independents. As a voting cohort, they’ll decide who wins between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney in November.
The poll by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center show it’s a toss-up for the Granite State’s four electoral college votes.
“This election looks to be as close as the 2000 and 2004 elections in New Hampshire,” said Andrew Smith, director of the UNH Survey Center. “In both of those elections, the race was won by about 1 percentage point.”
At this juncture, the incumbent president sits at 49 percent, while his GOP challenger is at 45 percent. The poll has a margin of error of 4.5 percent.
The data shows a narrowing gap between the two; Obama had a 9-point lead in April.
There are two key cohorts to note in the data.
One is the independents. They are gravitating toward Romney: 41 percent are for Romney and 40 percent for Obama.
In April, it was Obama 40 percent to 35 percent.
The second notable cohort are women. They prefer Obama over Romney by 14 points.
Which gives rise to the question of who Romney might pick as his vice presidential running mate. New Hampshire U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte has been mentioned often in recent weeks, in part, as a way to help Romney close the gender gap.
Speculation about a Romney announcement on his VP choice this week is rife and the fact that he’s coming to New Hampshire on Friday only heightens the chatter about Ayotte.
(According to the Union Leader’s Granite Status, Romney will visit Bow with Ayotte, saying “Ayotte is among those under consideration as Romney's running mate, although she is not currently viewed as one of the two or three finalists for the second slot on the GOP ticket.”)
The shifting tide for Obama can be seen in other numbers from the poll.
His disapproval numbers are up over the April poll. As well, voter approval of his handling of the economy and his handling of foreign affairs are down.
The battleground nature of the state is not lost on either campaign.
In addition to Romney’s latest scheduled visit on Friday, First Lady Michelle Obama is slated to be in the state on Aug. 2. That follows two previous visits by her husband and a string of visits from Vice President Joe Biden, as well as a number of surrogates over the last few months.