Oh my: Gallup shows Romney leading by five -- in swing states

Like Chuck Todd said this morning, “Structural shift.”

A safe prediction for tomorrow night: You’re going to hear a lot about the “47 percent” and a lot lot lot about the “war on women.”

As the presidential campaign heads into its final weeks, the survey of voters in 12 crucial swing states finds female voters much more engaged in the election and increasingly concerned about the deficit and debt issues that favor Romney. The Republican nominee now ties the president among women who are likely voters, 48%-48%, while he leads by 12 points among men…

“In every poll, we’ve seen a major surge among women in favorability for Romney” since his strong performance in the first debate, veteran Democratic pollster Celinda Lake says. “Women went into the debate actively disliking Romney, and they came out thinking he might understand their lives and might be able to get something done for them.”…

Now, the USA TODAY/Gallup Poll shows Romney leading Obama 51%-46% among likely voters in the swing states. Men who are likely voters back him 54%-42%. The states are Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin…

When women were asked to identify the most important issue for women, though, the answers were strikingly different. The top concern by far was abortion, an issue that didn’t even register among men. Nearly four in 10 women cited it, and those who did supported Obama by more than 3-1. Fifteen percent cited equal rights, pay or opportunity.

There’s an enthusiasm gap among women voters too, with 46 percent saying they’re “extremely enthusiastic” to vote for Mitt versus 38 percent who say so about O. (Married women, who trend Republican, are also more enthusiastic than singles.) You’ll be pleased to know that Team Hopenchange has already wet itself over these results and is circulating a memo written by their pollster dumping on Gallup’s likely voter screen. I’m intrigued that they’re so eager to bat this down with the next debate 28 hours away. Even if this is an outlier, they’ll benefit if the next poll is taken after the debate and shows the race tighter, which would lend itself to an “Obama comeback” narrative. They must be awfully nervous about perceptions taking hold in the electorate that O’s a loser beyond even the power of the next debate to change. And if you read Sean Trende’s piece last week, you know why: Constructing a sense of inevitability has always been their best defense against the forces of political “gravity.” Once that sense is shattered and Romney becomes plausible, they start to melt.

The danger for Obama now, I think, is that he’s lost control of his own destiny. He’ll light into Romney tomorrow night but I don’t know how much harm it’ll do, especially since Mitt will be well prepared for the “47 percent” attack. Romney’s task was, and is, to show he’s a plausible president, and that depends much more on his own answers (and demeanor) than it does on Obama’s. If “President Romney” seems viable, gravity can do the rest.

Update: A few swing-state odds and ends for you as gravy. A Romney aide told Byron York that their internal polls show Ohio dead even; ARG sees a dead heat in Iowa too. Meanwhile, PPP found Romney up two points in North Carolina — based on a D+10 sample. As Tony Lee says, lights out.

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