President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney crisscrossed the nation on the final weekend of the campaign as a closely watched poll in the swing state of Iowa showed the incumbent ahead there.
Obama is leading the Republican challenger 47 percent to 42 percent among likely Iowa voters, the Des Moines Register’s Iowa Poll shows.
The newspaper’s survey also pointed to some reason for optimism for Romney in Iowa, even as time before the Nov. 6 election is running out. Seven percent of those surveyed say they could still change their minds. Among that small group, a plurality of 48 percent say they’re angry and pessimistic, double the average. Just two percent say they remain undecided, while five percent declined to share their choice.
“There are things that could happen today and Monday that would shape the final outcome,” pollster J. Ann Selzer told the newspaper. “Nobody need be over-confident.”
Both candidates have solidified their Iowa support, with 96 percent of Romney supporters and 95 percent of Obama supporters saying their minds are made up.
The survey of 800 likely voters was conducted Oct. 30 to Nov. 2 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Iowa has just six of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House. Still, both campaigns are fighting over it this final weekend before the election, with Obama and Romney holding events near each other today in Dubuque.
None of the swing states has more sentimental appeal and symbolism for Obama, whose win in the 2008 Iowa caucuses put him on his way to the Democratic nomination and the White House. The president is scheduled to headline what will probably be the last campaign rally of his political career in Des Moines on the evening before the election, before flying to Chicago where he will watch the results.
“Iowa, I started my presidential journey right here in this state. After two years of campaigning and after four years as president, you know me by now,” Obama told about 5,000 supporters tonight in Dubuque. “You know I tell the truth. And you know I’ll fight for you.”
Earlier today, Romney pulled his campaign plane up to a rally in an airline hanger where several hundred people waited.
“I know most of you here have decided who you are voting for in three more days, but you have some neighbors who haven’t made up their minds yet,” he said. “I want to make sure that I give you the arguments you need.”
Most of Romney’s senior advisers joined him for part of the final campaign sprint, including former Utah Governor Mike Leavitt, who’s been asked to oversee Romney’s transition if he wins. With the strategy set, there was little to do except watch the polls, voter turn-out, and the candidate.
Obama campaign manager Jim Messina told reporters in a conference call today that the president’s re-election would be aided by a turnout effort “unlike any other American politics has seen.” Messina said the campaign had registered 1.8 million new voters in the most competitive states -- almost twice as many new voters as the Obama campaign registered four years ago -- and that 28 percent cast ballots in early voting.
Romney started the day telling New Hampshire voters that they should vote for him “for love of country,” and not revenge. His comments were a rebuttal to Obama, who told supporters yesterday not to boo Romney’s name at rally in Springfield, Ohio. “No, no, no -- don’t boo, vote,” Obama said. “Vote. Voting is the best revenge.”
He closed it in Colorado, a state Republicans have long described as favorable ground. Romney packed a stadium in Englewood with 17,000 cheering supporters.
“The only thing that stands between us and some of the best years we’ve ever know is lack of leadership,” said Romney, who threw a windbreaker over his button-down shirt and tie for the appearance in the mountain state. “That’s why we have elections.”
Tomorrow, Romney, 65, has another packed day of campaigning planned, starting with a morning rally in Iowa and ending in Florida. His campaign added a stop in Pennsylvania, a traditionally Democratic state that Romney has not visited in weeks.
With Ohio and Iowa trending toward Obama, the Pennsylvania event is an indication that Romney is seeking to expand the battleground. He is skipping Nevada in the final days, dispatching former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the state instead, a sign that his chances have diminished there.
Obama began his day with a stop at the Federal Emergency Management Agency for a briefing on storm recovery efforts, as he is using his role as commander-in-chief to present himself as rising above partisan politics by managing the response to Hurricane Sandy.
“We still have a long way to go” on storm recovery efforts, said the president, who was joined by members of his cabinet during a visit to FEMA’s Washington headquarters. “It continues to be our number one priority. There is nothing more important than getting this right.”
At Obama’s first event today, outside of Cleveland, Ohio, the president continued to criticize Romney over an ad --called “inaccurate” and “misleading” by General Motors Co. (GM) and Chrysler Group LLC -- that implies Chrysler, following the auto bailout, expanded Jeep production plants in China at the expense of jobs in the state.
“When you elect a president you don’t know what kinds of emergencies may happen,” Obama, 51, told 4,000 supporters at a high school in Mentor, a Cleveland suburb. “But you do want to be able to trust your president. You want to know that your president means what he says and says what he means.”
While yesterday was the first day that Obama directly mentioned the ad, his campaign has been saturating the airwaves with their own rebuttal. Former President Bill Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden have been sent to Ohio to refute the implication that Chrysler would move production facilities to China and shed U.S. jobs.
In addition to the Iowa poll, surveys show Democrat Obama with a slight lead in swing states, including Ohio. No Republican presidential candidate has won election without carrying Ohio.
The NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist College survey of likely voters released today put Obama ahead of Romney in Ohio, 51 percent to 45 percent. The survey, taken Oct. 31-Nov. 1, found 52 percent of likely voters viewed Obama favorably and 45 percent viewed him unfavorably. Forty-eight percent viewed Romney unfavorably and 45 percent favorably, according to the survey, which had a 3.1 percentage point margin of error.
A Florida poll by the same organizations, also released today, showed the state was a tossup, with Obama ahead 49 percent to 47 percent. That’s within that survey’s 2.5 percentage point margin of error.