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A new poll shows the "stubborn" trends in three swing states, another has Romney "underwater" in favorability, while still another puts Obama in the lead nationally. Here's our guide to today's polls and why they matter. 

Findings: Polls out from three swing state today present a split, but not entirely surprising picture for the candidates. In Wisconsin and Virginia Obama hold leads — 51 percent to 45 percent in the former and 49 percent to 45 percent in the latter. In, Colorado, which we noted yesterday had a confusing poll record, saw Romney leading 50 to 45 percent. The polls also show typical gender divides. In all states polled Obama leads women, and Romney leads men. 

Pollster: Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News

Methodology: 1,463 Colorado likely voters, 1,412 Virginia likely voters, and 1,428 Wisconsin likely voters were surveyed via live interviews on land lines or cell phones between July 31 and August 6. All, separately, have a margin of error of +/-2.6 percent. 

Why it matters:  Colorado's picture complicates things. Just yesterday one poll showed Obama leading in the state and another showed him tied with Romney. Today, Romney has the edge. That said,  In the Huffington Post Mark Blumenthal and Ariel Edwards-Levy identify two demographic areas whether either the poll is has a "random skew" or there is waning interest from 2008: Latinos and young voters. An exit poll from 2008 had Latinos making up 13 percent of the state's voters. In the recent poll they made up 9 percent. Voters under the age of 44 made up 47 percent of the state in 2008, but only 29 percent of this poll. Blumenthal and Edwards-Levy write: "The demographic composition of Quinnipiac's Colorado poll points either to the big challenges the Obama campaign faces mobilizing its base, a random skew in this particular poll's sampling, or perhaps a little of both." As we pointed out yesterday, Colorado could be a deciding state in this election. 

In another sense some reports say the results emphasize familiar trends. (As for Virginia, a Rasmussen poll out today has Obama leading with a margin two points smaller than the Quinnipiac/NYT/CBS poll.)  In their report Jim Rutenberg and Allison Kopicki write in the New York Times that the results "highlight the stubborn division's of this year's presidential race." Blumenthal and Edwards-Levy write that the polls show the race "in about the same place it has been all summer," with each candidate winning their partisan support and independents evenly divided. That said, according to the Times, the results also show why the candidates are working to gain support in order to change the tide of the election. Romney — who is "making inroads" among this constituency — needs to win over women, and Obama needs to cut into the support Romney has among white working-class voters. That's narrowed by National Journal's Ronald Brownstein who explains that today's polls and last week's from the same pollsters show "in every state except Florida...that a significant gender gap has opened among working-class whites, with Obama performing much better among white women without a college education than blue-collar white men." This, he says, while still not a slam dunk for Obama is a "big change" from earlier, when the gender gap only existed "among upscale whites."

Caveat: The possible demographic discrepancies mentioned above. Also, the Times notes that of the three states only Obama's lead in Wisconsin was "statistically significant." 

Findings: It's bad news for Romney when it comes to favorability: 40 percent view him favorably compared to 49 percent unfavorably. This makes it 10 straight ABC News/Washington Post polls where he's been "underwater." Also now 30 percent — a "new high" — think he's "strongly" unfavorable. Meanwhile, Obama is in the positive with 53 percent viewing him favorably to 43 percent unfavorably. However, among registered voters he is only at 49 percent to 47 percent, and he too has his share of "strongly" unfavorable votes: 31 percent. 

Pollster: ABC News/Washington Post

Methodology: 1,026 adults were surveyed August 1 through 5 on landline and cell phone. The margin of sampling error is 4 points. 

Why it matters: Greg Holyk at ABC News has some historical numbers that look pretty damning for Romney. He writes that Romney has the "the lowest personal popularity ratings for a presumptive presidential nominee in midsummer election-year polls back to 1984." Holyk also notes that Romney "finished the primary season with the lowest favorability for a presumptive nominee in ABC/Post polls back 28 years," something from which he hasn't yet recovered. Alexander Burns at Politico wrote: "Candidate errors presumably play a role in these numbers, but you also can't underestimate the impact of tens of millions of dollars in negative ads from the Obama campaign and super PAC." Obama, he notes, is banking on his "personal likability." 

Caveat: The poll notes "with three months of campaigning ahead, these views don’t predict the election outcome." 

Findings: A national poll shows Obama leading Romney 49 percent to 42 percent. Those surveyed also find Obama inching above Romney on who is stronger on jobs and the economy 46 percent to Romney's 44 percent and taxes 49 percent to Romney's 38 percent. The economy is considered by 45 percent to be the "most important problem" facing the nation. 

Pollster: Reuters/Ipsos

Methodology: 1,168 adults aged 18 and older — with 1,014 registered voters — between August 2 and 6 in live television interviews. The margin of error for all adults is +/-3 percent and +/-3.4 for registered voters. 

Why it matters: According to Reuters, via the Huffington Post, the results "suggest that the Obama campaign's efforts to paint Romney as being out of touch with the concerns of middle-class Americans could be preventing the Republican from gaining momentum in the race." That said, over at Politico, Burns writes that "there are not a lot of strategists out there who think either candidate's ahead by a margin as big as 7 points." 

Caveat: Obama's lead in the Reuter's poll is pretty wide considering Real Clear Politics has his average lead at 3.9 percentage points and Talking Points Memo's PollTracker has his at only 2.6. 


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