PRINCETON, NJ -- Registered voters in 12 key swing states are almost evenly split between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in their 2012 presidential election preferences, while giving a 14-percentage-point lead to Obama over Newt Gingrich. Swing-state voters also prefer Obama to Ron Paul and to Rick Santorum. Registered voters nationally express similar preferences, although Paul does slightly better at the national level than he does in the swing states.
These "swing state" results are from the third USA Today/Gallup Swing States poll, based on Jan. 24-28 Gallup Daily tracking of registered voters in 12 states that will be among the most crucial to winning the 2012 presidential election. The states include Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin. The national results are based on Jan. 27-28 Gallup Daily tracking of registered voters.
Obama and Romney have been closely matched in each of the three swing-states polls, conducted in October, late November/early December, and now in January. Obama and Romney have also been statistically tied in each of five polls conducted among national registered voters dating back to August.
The Obama-Gingrich matchup was not included in the October swing-states or national poll, but in late November/early December, Gingrich was slightly ahead of Obama in the swing states, while trailing by six points nationally. Now, Gingrich's position has worsened on both fronts, as the former House speaker trails the president by 14 points in the swing states and by 12 points nationally.
The late January polling marks the first time Gallup has measured Obama against Paul and Santorum in the swing states, and the president leads each by a margin of seven points. Nationally, Paul does slightly better, trailing Obama by only three points. Santorum's deficit to Obama nationally is essentially the same as his deficit in the swing states.
Romney Almost Back to Even With Gingrich Among Republicans Nationally
Gallup Daily tracking of national Republican registered voters' preferences from Jan. 24-28 shows that Gingrich and Romney are now essentially tied, with Gingrich at 28% and Romney at 26%. This is the latest development in a race whose lead has swung back and forth several times over the last two months. Gingrich had previously moved back into the top position after strong debate performances and securing a 12-point win in the South Carolina primary.
Prior to that, Romney had led by as much as 24 points, which itself followed as much as a 15-point Gingrich lead in early December.
Polls in Florida show Romney with a substantial lead going into that state's Jan. 31 primary, and a Romney win there would likely bolster his standing among Republicans nationally.
Republicans More Likely to Be Extremely Enthusiastic About Voting Next November
Republicans remain slightly more enthusiastic about voting for president in this year's election than are Democrats or independents -- both in swing states and nationally.
Republicans are particularly more likely than the other two groups to say they are "extremely" enthusiastic about voting, although Democrats make up most of the difference by being more likely than Republicans to say they are "very" enthusiastic.
Gallup trial heats for the 2012 general election between Obama and Romney have consistently shown a close race across five national polls conducted in August, September, October, December, and now in January, as well as in three swing-state polls conducted since October. Thus, even as Republican voters' support for various candidates for their party's nomination has fluctuated substantially, the preferences of all registered voters for Obama or Romney nationally and in key swing states have remained quite stable.
In contrast to Romney's stable positioning against Obama, Gingrich's strength in swing states and nationally has deteriorated since late November/early December. Obama now leads Gingrich by double-digit margins in both. Additionally, Gallup Daily tracking of national Republican preferences for their party's nominee over the weekend shows Gingrich's lead over Romney slipping, with the two nearly back to a tie.
These results, coupled with Gallup's latest measure of the two candidates' images among Americans, lend support to the Romney camp's argument that Romney is the more electable of the two.
The next major campaign event is Tuesday's Florida primary, which Romney now appears poised to win. If Romney does win in the Sunshine State, the observed pattern of national Republican preferences so far this election cycle suggests he will once again become the front-runner. If that occurs, the national race at this stage will be close, because Obama and Romney remain essentially neck and neck in key swing states and nationally, as they have been for months.
Election Day turnout will likely be very important in determining the eventual presidential winner, and at this point, Republicans appear to have more enthusiasm about voting than do Democrats, potentially giving the GOP candidate an extra boost.
Results for swing state residents are based on telephone interviews conducted Jan. 24-28, 2012, on the Gallup Daily tracking survey, with a random sample of 737 registered voters, aged 18 and older, living in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin, selected using random-digit-dial sampling.
For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points.
The data represent a subset of Gallup's national daily tracking survey for Jan. 24-28, and are proportionate to population size of each state. Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, and phone status (cell phone-only/landline only/both, cell phone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2011 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.
The weighted and unweighted sample sizes for each state are shown here:
Results for the national sample are based on telephone interviews conducted Jan. 27-28, on the Gallup Daily tracking survey, with a random sample of 907 registered voters, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample includes a minimum quota of 400 cell phone respondents and 600 landline respondents per 1,000 national adults, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cell phone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.
Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, and phone status (cell phone only/landline only/both, cell phone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2011 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.