The New York Times is milking its latest poll, showing some good news for Obama, to maximum effect. Sunday's front-page featured a poll story from one of the paper's top Obama boosters, White House correspondent Jackie Calmes (pictured): "Challenged on Medicare, G.O.P. Loses Ground." Text box: "Polls Show Favor for Obama on Issue of Party Trust." Calmes writes from Orlando:
Maria Rubin is one of the coveted independent voters in this swing state -- so independent that she will not say whether she is voting for President Obama or Mitt Romney. She does share her age (63) and, more quickly, her opinion on Medicare: “I’m not in favor of changing it, or eliminating it.”
Her attitude speaks directly to one of the biggest challenges facing the Republican ticket this year: countering the Democrats’ longstanding advantage as the party more trusted to deal with Medicare.
In the 2010 Congressional races, successful Republicans believed that they had finally found a way to do that, by linking the program’s future to Mr. Obama’s unpopular health insurance overhaul and accusing Democrats of cutting Medicare to pay for it. This summer Mr. Romney resumed the offensive, eventually joined by his running mate, Representative Paul D. Ryan.
But in recent weeks Mr. Obama and his campaign have hit back hard, and enlisted former President Bill Clinton as well, to make the case that the Romney-Ryan approach to Medicare would leave older Americans vulnerable to rising health care costs. Now their counterattack seems to be paying off.
The latest New York Times/CBS News poll, conducted over the last week, found that Mr. Obama held an advantage over Mr. Romney on the question of who would do a better job of handling Medicare. That is consistent with other recent polls and is a shift from just last month, before the parties’ national conventions, when the two men were statistically tied on the issue.
As that poll result reflects, the Democratic message is resonating with voters like Ms. Rubin, who joined other independent and Democratic voters last week to hear Mr. Clinton make his pitch for Mr. Obama’s re-election in the packed ballroom of a resort hotel here.
The poll also made Saturday's front page, in an off-lead by Jeff Zeleny and Megan Thee-Brenan, "Poll Finds Obama Is Erasing Romney's Edge on Economy." The paper's first poll of "likely voters" actually found the election quite close, with a three-point lead (49%-46%) for Obama. But the story led and was dominated by pro-Obama optimism.
President Obama has taken away Mitt Romney’s longstanding advantage as the candidate voters say is most likely to restore the economy and create jobs, according to the latest poll by The New York Times and CBS News, which found a modest sense of optimism among Americans that White House policies are working.
But while the climate for Mr. Obama has improved since midsummer, and Mr. Romney has failed to shift sentiment decisively in his favor, the poll found that the presidential race is narrowly divided. The outcome could still turn on unexpected events and how the candidates are perceived after their three debates next month.
With their conventions behind them and the general election campaign fully engaged, the Democratic Party is viewed more favorably than the Republican Party. The poll also found that more likely voters give an edge to Mr. Obama on foreign policy, Medicare and addressing the challenges of the middle class. The only major issue on which Mr. Romney held an advantage was handling the federal budget deficit.
Campaign reporter Michael Barbaro piled on, adding a capstone to Obama's success in his Monday morning "Caucus" post while burying his ineffectual opponent: "For Romney Campaign, an Unpleasant Week."
New polls showed him losing his edge on the economy, once thought to be his unassailable competitive advantage in the race against President Obama, and lagging behind in crucial swing states.