No wonder Team Obama started spending money in Detroit. Democrats usually have no trouble holding Michigan in presidential races, and with Barack Obama bragging about the auto-industry bailout, most people figured that task would be easier than ever. However, a new poll from the Detroit News shows Obama below 50% — and Mitt Romney within the margin of error:
Mitt Romney is within striking distance of Barack Obama in Michigan in the final days before the election, buoyed by more who are convinced the Republican is a viable alternative to the president, with the ability to turn around the economy.
Obama’s lead over Romney has shrunk to just under 3 points, 47.7 percent to 45 percent, with 3.8 percent undecided, according to a new Detroit News/WDIV Local 4 poll of likely voters. Obama’s lead was 6.7 points earlier this month and has eroded to within the poll’s 4 percentage point margin of error. It’s the smallest advantage for the Democratic president during the Michigan campaign.
“Mitt Romney’s numbers … are where they would need to be if he hopes to pull off an upset next week,” said Richard Czuba of Glengariff Group Inc., which conducted the poll. “But the question is: Is there enough for a final push?”
The Detroit News didn’t release the poll internals, but the News has some helpful graphics at the top of the page on a couple of key issues. Obama has an eight-point lead on foreign affairs, and a six-point lead on “understanding your values,” but doesn’t get to 50% on either. Romney has a narrow lead on the economy, 47.3% to 43.8%, though, which is the biggest issue in the campaign. Romney’s lead in this case looks less important than the fact that the incumbent can’t get to 44%.
Perhaps more importantly, Romney’s winning independents, according to the News, albeit “narrowly.” Obama won them by eight in 2008. Romney also leads among men by six points, while Obama won them by seven four years ago. Obama won the state by sixteen points in 2008, so a 13-point flip in the gap among independents and a flip among men of nine or more points would put this state in play.
Expect to see more polling come out of Michigan, especially with national polling more or less derailed after Hurricane Sandy. We’ll see if this is an outlier — but the sudden decision to spend precious last-minute resources in Detroit by the Obama campaign tells me they’re seeing the same thing.