Gallup has just released its first six full week tracking poll of the general election cycle showing a dead heat between President Obama and Mitt Romney both at 46 percent, with a margin of error LESS than 1 percent.
Digging deep into these numbers produces few surprises for moment. Both candidates win their base, and independents are evenly split.
Considering the high turnout and how much momentum Barack Obama had going into 2008, the tightness of this race right now may be a bad sign for a reelection campaign that cannot as easily depend on the enthusiasm it witnessed four years ago. Charlie Cook of National Journal writes that this election is shaping up to be very close and more like 2000 than 2008:
The important caveat is propensity to vote. Gallup asked registered voters to rate, on a 10-point scale, how likely they were to vote in November. Eighty-one percent and 82 percent of non-Hispanic whites indicated 10. For African-Americans, it was almost as high: 79 percent and 75 percent chose 10. Among Hispanics, though, just 58 percent in the front half and 65 percent in the second half put their propensity to vote at 10.
This data suggest that Obama is on track to replicate his performances in terms of support among African-Americans and Hispanics. The Hispanic-turnout problem, though, is very real.
The most striking poll finding was the generational divide among white voters. Among whites 18 to 29, Romney led by 3 points in the first three weeks of interviewing; Obama had a 1-point edge in the second three weeks. Among whites 30 and older, the Romney advantage ballooned to 19 points in the first half and 20 points in the second. But it’s the likelihood of voting that should worry Democrats: 84 and 85 percent of those 30 and older said their likelihood of voting was 10; only 61 and 63 percent of those 18 to 29 indicated 10.
On one level, the presidential election is a fight for the hearts and minds of independents in the middle. For the Obama campaign, though, the second fight is to get young and Hispanic voters to show up. The intensity of four years ago is hard to find today.
The Obama team has taken notice and moved to encourage supporters not to fret. Campaign manager Jim Messina put out a video yesterday explaining that "we always knew this was going to be a tough race," harping on the importance of the Obama ground game and ‘get out the vote’ initiative.
Matt Kibbe of FreedomWorks joined "Real News" Tuesday to discuss grassroots activity on both sides, and the importance of this "organic organizing" for conservatives to compete with the sophisticated get out the vote machine of the Obama campaign and unions.