Public Policy Polling for Daily Kos & SEIU. 7/19-7/22. Registered voters. MoE ±3.1% (7/12-15 results):
Q: If the candidates for President this fall were Democrat Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney, who would you vote for?
Barack Obama: 46 (48)
Mitt Romney: 46 (46)
Undecided: 8 (7)
There's no getting around: These are the worst head-to-head numbers for President Obama we've found since we started including this question in our poll every week back in April:
Obama in blue, Romney in red
On the one hand, you could argue that this movement is just noise—after all, a two-point change is really no big deal in an ordinary poll. You could also note that we've seen numbers almost this close before: Back at the end of May, Obama led by just a single point. On the other hand, you might take note of the continuous downward trend since June 10. You could also point out that, on the face of things, Obama's had a pretty good (if not very good) couple of weeks in the news, with Romney in an ugly defensive crouch over his unreleased tax returns and fuzzy departure from Bain Capital, and yet the president's numbers have still dropped.
I can't tell you which view is right. But if you step back and look at all the national polling, not just PPP's, it does indeed appear that the race has tightened in the last couple of weeks (and that's true whether or not you include Rasmussen):
My read? This is what happens when you have an incredibly hard-fought election, with an extremely well-funded challenger, against the backdrop of an economy that's been lousy for years. We should expect a close race, and I don't think anyone really felt that those gaudy eight-point leads Obama showed in our polling early last month were going to be sustainable. Notably, though, Romney still hasn't taken the lead, either in PPP's polling or when you look at the national aggregate. We'll just have to keep watching to see where things are headed next.