Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt… (Alex Wong / Getty Images )
Reporting from Washington — It looks like concern within Mitt Romney’s campaign that the prolonged Republican presidential primary could damage his standing among undecided voters has some legitimacy.
A new USA Today/Gallup poll gauging support among independents in swing states finds that President Obama holds a 48% to 39% advantage over the presumptive GOP nominee Romney, a significant change from polling conducted last year.
The poll, conducted before Romney’s primary victories on Tuesday, also places Obama’s overall support in 12 swing states above Romney’s, 51% to 42%.
The key to these results is the sizable departure of independent women from Romney’s camp over the last few months to Obama's. In polls conducted between October and December 2011, Romney led Obama 48% to 43% among independent women. But since then, the aggregated data from February to March bode well for Obama, with independent women now preferring the president 51% to 37%.
That’s a whopping 19% swing – Romney down 11 percentage points and Obama up 8 – and it was seen within the male independent electorate as well, with a 12% swing accounting for Obama’s current slim 46% to 45% lead.
Interestingly, though the initial thought would be to chalk up the shift to the recent debate over contraceptives and health insurance, 8 out of 10 independent women polled were unaware of Romney’s stance. Of those who were aware of Romney’s position on contraception, the majority disagreed with him, by a 2-to-1 margin.
For Obama, 58% were unfamiliar with his position on contraception, and of those who did know where he stood, there was an even split between those for and against his views.
The poll, conducted March 20-26, surveyed voters in the battleground states of Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. The poll was conducted through telephone interviews with a random sample of 933 voters and a sampling error of 6%.
Original source: Independent women lead exodus of support from Romney