First Gallup 2012 tracking poll: Romney 47, Obama 45

Worth blogging or no? On the one hand, it’s registered voters, not likelies, and we’ve got, oh, another 200 or so of these to go before election day. On the other hand, go look at BuzzFeed’s historical comparison. Incumbents always start out ahead — until now. For some reason they omit 1984, but Conn Carroll has that number: Reagan led Mondale by fully 13 points in April that year. Not since Gerald Ford has a sitting president actually trailed his presumptive opponent six-plus months before the election.

The race breaks down into the expected patterns by party, with 90% of Democrats supporting Obama, and 90% of Republicans supporting Romney. The Republican results show that despite the rancor and divisiveness of the Republican campaign, the vast majority of Republicans are backing Romney in the head-to-head battle with Obama, as they have in ballot tests earlier this year.

The crucial voting bloc of independents breaks toward Romney by 45% to 39%, giving the GOP challenger his slight overall edge…

At this point, there is no statistically significant advantage for either candidate [in terms of enthusiasm], as 80% of Romney voters and 76% of Obama voters say they will definitely vote next November.

Three weeks ago, Obama led Romney 49/45 so Mitt might be benefiting here from the positive buzz of having become the de facto nominee in the interim. Or maybe not; when the numbers are this close, movements of a few points are probably just noise. How about this, though?

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 46% of Likely U.S. Voters would vote for the Republican in their district’s congressional race if the election were held today, while 36% would choose the Democrat instead. This is the largest gap between the two parties since the beginning of 2011. It also doubles the gap found a week ago when the Republican led by five points, 45% to 40%.

Follow the link and note the trend in the numbers. The GOP hasn’t led on the generic ballot by more than six points since November and has occasionally slipped to within a point or two of Democrats since then. (They actually trailed the Dems briefly in January.) Why the sudden surge this week? More noise, or is it a byproduct of conservative enthusiasm ticking upward as the right turns from the primary to the general election? Either way, if it’s true that Paul Ryan’s budget is destined to become a liability for the party, it’s also true that it hasn’t become one yet.

Incidentally, get in the habit of viewing Romney’s numbers vis-a-vis the congressional generic ballot, as the House GOP’s numbers will help dictate how closely Mitt sticks to their basic agenda on the trail. At least one Republican rep is already warning him, “We’re not a cheerleading squad. We’re the conductor. We’re supposed to drive the train.” Here he is in cheery tough-guy mode, advising Obama to “start packing.”

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