The latest battleground surveys similarly show Obama winning at least 50 percent of college-educated, white women in every state except Michigan, North Carolina and Nevada, and exceeding 55 percent support among them in Colorado, Wisconsin, Iowa, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire. In most states, he runs better with these women voters than any other group of whites.
Obama's weakest group among whites in national polling is non-college, white men, who gave him only 39 percent of their votes last time. He's polling at that level or lower again, and in the recent round of state surveys, he draws only 40 percent or fewer of these men in every state except New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.
Likewise, the recent national surveys generally find Obama running slightly below the 43 percent he won in 2008 among college-educated, white men. In most of the battleground states (including Colorado, Virginia, Michigan, Florida, Ohio, Nevada and North Carolina), the polls show the president coming in around 40 percent with them; he's running best with them in Iowa and Wisconsin.
The biggest divergence between these battleground state polls and national surveys is Obama's performance among white women without a college education. These women have tilted Republican in every presidential election since 1980 except 1996, and in 2008, Obama won only 41 percent of them. The three recent national surveys showed Obama attracting only between 35 percent (Heartland Monitor) and 44 percent (Pew) of their votes.
But in the battleground states, especially in the Midwest, Obama's performance is stronger. Among these women, the state-level polls show Obama drawing 46 percent in Michigan, 48 percent in Florida, 49 percent in Nevada, 50 percent in New Hampshire and Wisconsin, 51 percent in Pennsylvania, and 52 percent in Ohio and Iowa. Obama still lags badly among them only in Virginia and North Carolina, where many blue-collar whites are also evangelical Christians, and to a lesser extent Colorado.
Beyond the opposition's portrayal of Romney as obtuse to the problems of working families, both sides agree that he has been hurt among blue-collar women by the skirmishes over defunding Planned Parenthood and access to contraception in health insurance. Many of these women view such women's health matters not as moral issues but as practical pocketbook concerns. The combined effect of all this is measured in the most recent Quinnipiac/CBS News/NYT survey in Ohio, which found that while about three-fifths of non-college women agreed that Obama "cares about the needs and problems of people like you" roughly an equal number of them said Romney did not.
Both campaigns agree the Democratic ads have damaged Romney much more with blue-collar women than blue-collar men. But both sides also agree that these women are the least stable component of Obama's emerging coalition. "I still say the non-college, white women are the moving piece of the electorate," Garin said. "But Romney is an imperfect vessel for them to say the least."