Oh my: Obama now below 50% against Romney -- in California

Even in the bluest of blue states, he’s now treading water at 48 percent, still comfortably ahead of Romney but unable to grab a majority even in Cali. Big deal or no? Banish the thought from your mind that Romney has a chance of winning there. He doesn’t — although don’t hold me to that if we get another three or four jobs reports that look like today’s. No, the potential significance of this and the reason why there’s some buzz about it among righties on Twitter is that it’s circumstantial evidence that The One might be starting to collapse nationally. That’s John Ellis’s point about the Wisconsin recall, after all: If Walker wins big there, then it may be a sign that a decisive national shift is already under way.

The obligatory historical comparison:

Things didn’t work out so well for the Democrats the last time their nominee was under 50 percent in California at this point. Then again, Gore wasn’t an incumbent president; Bill Clinton was, and he managed to do nicely despite an even poorer showing than O’s. Proof that this poll means nothing or should we throw out 1996 as a yardstick since it was a three-party race and Clinton didn’t have to contend with protracted economic misery?

The good news for O is that his job approval in the state is actually up several points since late last year. The not so good news:

Romney’s not gaining at his expense but suddenly, even in a Democratic stronghold, you’ve got a chunk of voters wary enough of a second Obama term that they’re moving into the undecided column. If that’s happening here, what’s happening in Colorado and Iowa and Nevada?

Don’t read too much into it yet, though. Obama’s still up by three points nationally in CNN’s new poll and Romney’s already giving up on at least one swing state which some Republicans think might be in play. Just flag this for now as a benchmark for the first post-Disastrous Jobs Report state poll of California.

Update: Via Ace, Daily Mail reporter Toby Harnden decides it’s okay to say it: Mitt Romney is now the favorite in November.

Romney wants to make the campaign all about the economy and all about Obama. There is little doubt that Obama wants to talk about anything other than the economy but at the same time he finds it very difficult to depart from the “all about me” theme that has characterised his entire political career.

Put all this together and what have we got? Romney must now be considered the narrow favourite in November. Of course, Obama could well be re-elected. But this feels like a moment similar to the one in mid-December 2007 when Obama began to eclipse Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries.

We are now seeing a very different race from the one Obama or the Washington cognoscenti ever anticipated. Things can change very quickly but Mitt Romney has just become the 2012 front-runner.

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