Elections 2012: Who is Winning? That Depends Where You Look

It’s easy to dismiss the latest polls as “horserace” reporting. But people do want to know which presidential candidate is ahead. It’s human nature.

And in the crazy world of the American Electoral College, there’s another reason to keep track because where a candidate is leading as is important as by how much.

A new ABC News/Washington Post poll out today shows the President Barack Obama in a statistical tie with Mitt Romney (the poll shows 49 to 48 percent, but the margin of error is 4 percent).

One interesting bit that favors Obama. That poll shows 63 percent of those surveyed say Romney has not provided enough details about what he would do in the White House to fix the country’s problems. Even conservatives and Republicans are calling for Romney to be more specific on his tax and spending plans.

Another poll released today shows Obama reaching the all-important 50 percent support level. That poll shows the president with a 6-point lead over Romney. A feature of this poll, by Gallup, is that it captures undecided voters who are leaning toward a candidate.

On the state level, however, new polling shows a shift in a couple of states.

Start with Minnesota. A SurveyUSA/KSTP poll now shows Barack Obama with a ten-point lead over Mitt Romney. “It should be noted the polling began on the final day of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte and continued through the weekend,” a story on KTSP says. “Obama received a lot of positive coverage during the convention, but it was tempered by another discouraging jobs report over the weekend.”

So the bad news – the jobs report – is already factored in.

However the same SurveyUSA shows Romney with a growing lead in North Carolina. And a Civitas Flash Poll shows Romney cruising with a ten-point lead in that state.

Nate Silver who keeps track of all the political data for The New York Times says that Obama’s convention bounce appears to be slowing. “To be sure,” he writes, “Mr. Obama had a fairly strong day of polling on Monday relative to the long-term baseline. But the data was a little bit more equivocal than in polls released over the weekend — which may suggest, at least, that he will make few further gains in the polls.”

But the one state everyone wants to know about is Ohio. A Gravis Marketing poll of Ohio voters says; “Obama's take has increased to 47 percent from 43 percent, highlighting the bump Obama has received from the DNC and his speech. Democratic Senate candidate Sherrod Brown also experienced a bump in support following the Democratic convention.”

Romney could win the election without Ohio. But he would have to win Virginia, Florida, Wisconsin and Nevada to make up ground.

Mark Trahant is a writer, speaker and Twitter poet. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and lives in Fort Hall, Idaho. He has been writing about Indian Country for more than three decades. His e-mail is: marktrahant@thecedarsgroup.org.