Mitt Romney's not just treading water, he's underwater when it comes to personal favorability as the clock ticks down to Election Day.
According to the results of a new ABC News-Washington Post poll out this morning, 40 percent of Americans view Romney favorably while 49 percent unfavorably. That means Romney has been "underwater" in 10 consecutive polls this year. http://abcn.ws/OL7X4x
What's more, while the the presumptive Republican nominee's favorables have ticked up by 7 percentage points this year, his unfavorable score is up more than double that - 18 points.
"Mitt Romney is laboring under the lowest personal popularity ratings for a presumptive presidential nominee in midsummer election-year polls back to 1984," according to ABC News Pollster Gary Langer.
President Obama, on the other hand, gets more positive ratings. He is seen favorably by 53 percent of American adults and unfavorably by 43 percent.
Langer notes, "Obama's advantage rests with women, among whom 58 percent see him favorably, vs. 47 percent of men - the widest gender gap in this measure of the season.
But the real problem for Romney may be among independents. According to the new poll:
-Obama's gained back ground he'd lost among independents. In late May he fell numerically underwater among independents for the first time since December (45-52 percent favorable-unfavorable). He's now back far in front of Romney in this group, largely because of gains among independent women.
-Among all independents, Obama's favorability rating is now 16 points higher than Romney's (53 percent vs. 37 percent). At the same time, that narrows among independents who are registered to vote - 46 percent favorable for Obama, 38 percent for Romney.
ABC's RICK KLEIN: Mitt Romney's favorability numbers are a reminder that three months before the election, Romney has not penetrated public perceptions when it comes to defining himself. He's still well underwater, as he has been virtually since the start of the election cycle, and Democrats continue to dump more on his head, now with a fresh attack on women's rights issues. It raises the stakes for the Republican National Convention - and it's one factor that has outside Republicans calling for Romney to go bold (think Paul Ryan) in the VP selection process.
ABC's AMY WALTER: Todd Akin's win in Missouri last night will be remembered less as a loss for Palin than a win for Sen. Claire McCaskill. As the perceived weakest of the three GOPers, Akin may be the only Republican the embattled senator can defeat. If she hangs on to her seat, it virtually ensures that the Senate stays in Democratic hands.
WELFARE WARS: ROMNEY HITS OBAMA, OBAMA FIGHTS BACK, AND BILL CLINTON CHIMES IN. Mitt Romney on Tuesday charged President Obama with "taking the work requirement out of welfare," pointing to the administration's July decision to grant individual states waivers on certain federal work requirements. A new Romney ad, Romney claims the president is trying to "gut" the welfare reform measures passed by a Republican Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996, reports ABC's Greg Krieg and Emily Friedman. That overhaul required a certain percentage of every state's welfare beneficiaries to hold jobs as a precondition to their receiving benefits. WATCH: http://bit.ly/NatSof.
-The Obama campaign responded quickly, releasing a web ad refuting Romney's claim. The ad highlights fact-check reports calling Romney's claims "dubious" reports ABC's Devin Dwyer. WATCH: http://bit.ly/TfqZDh.
-On Tuesday night, Bill Clinton weighed in, releasing a statement in which he called the ad "disappointing." "The Romney ad is especially disappointing because, as governor of Massachusetts, he requested changes in the welfare reform laws that could have been eliminated time limits altogether. We need a bipartisan consensus to continue to keep people moving from welfare to work even during these hard times, not more misleading campaign ads" the statement read.
SPEAKING OF BILL CLINTON… ABC'S Amy Walter notes, Gov. Mitt Romney and President Obama are now embracing Bill Clinton, the man who, at one time, has campaigned against them both. The Romney campaign released an ad on Tuesday praising Clinton's 1996 welfare reform legislation, while chiding Obama for trying to "gut" the law's central requirement of requiring welfare recipients to hold a job. Clinton released a statement Tuesday night calling the claims made in the ad "not true." Meanwhile, Obama has employed the former president on the campaign trail to help validate the Obama administration's economic values. The former president has also been given a prime-time speaking slot at the Democratic Convention next month in Charlotte, N.C. So how did the man who was at one time considered the most polarizing politician of our time, become the president that both sides want to embrace? It's the economy stupid. http://abcn.ws/QF6Dnr
PILING ON PLOUFFE. The Republican National Committee is out with a new web video this morning targeting top Obama adviser David Plouffe, and through association, President Obama for the $100,000 dollar speaker's fee revealed this week by the Washington post. ABC's Shushannah Walshe notes that the company from which Plouffe received the six-figure payout has been linked to Iran. "President Obama came to Washington on the mantle that he was going to change how things were done," said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus. "He made a bunch of promises to turn the economy around and focus on unemployment but all he's been doing lately is raising money for his campaign. Now, it's been revealed that one of his top aides took $100,000 from a company that did business with Iran after he announced he was going to work for the Obama Administration. Four years later, Americans are beginning to realize that Barack Obama is just another typical politician-willing to say anything to get elected." WATCH: http://bit.ly/PESMbJ And here's the backstory on the controversial speech, courtesy of ABC's Mary Bruce: http://abcn.ws/OZaJpj
with Elizabeth Hartfield ( @LizHartfield)
HAPPENING TODAY: OBAMA TO STOKE WAR ON WOMEN. President Obama kicks off a two-day campaign swing through Colorado today by stoking debate over an alleged Republican war on women, ABC's Devin Dwyer reports. At his first stop here on a college campus, Obama will thrust the issue of women's health care back to center stage in the presidential race, casting rival Mitt Romney as out of touch with female voters and eager to "turn back the clock on decades of progress," according to his campaign. The president will emphasize provisions in his controversial health care law that benefit women, including the requirement that insurance companies cover a host of preventive health care services, such as contraception and breast cancer screenings, free of charge. Romney has said he would repeal the law and the expanded coverage rules, which took effect for the first time last week. Obama will get some help making his case from Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown Law School graduate turned women's rights activist, who earlier this year was publicly ridiculed by conservative radio talk host Rush Limbaugh for defending the contraception provisions in the health law. She will introduce the president, the campaign said. http://abcn.ws/O2BPxt
DEALING WITH DROUGHT: The Obama administration is authorizing an additional $30 million to help farmers and ranchers in areas hit by the severe drought, according to ABC's Mary Bruce. "This has been an all-hands-on-deck response… But obviously, we've got a lot more to do because a lot of folks are being affected by this," President Obama told reporters yesterday at a White House meeting on the drought response. Obama announced a series of steps to aid families and businesses impacted by the worst drought in 25 years, including increasing lending to small businesses and a Department of Transportation initiative to help commercial truck drivers provide much-needed supplies to the affected areas. http://abcn.ws/QCPquC
'SHOW ME' AN UPSET. Sarah Palin's chosen candidate lost Missouri's GOP Senate primary. So did the race's self-funding front-runner. Instead, Republicans in the Show Me State picked Rep. Todd Akin, in an upset victory for the Christian conservative who is serving his sixth House term, and who trailed badly according to late-July Mason-Dixon polling from Missouri. In Akin, vulnerable Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill will run against the opponent she evidently prefers: In the primary's closing weeks, a purported attack ad against Akin patted him on the back for conservative credentials. Among his GOP rivals, Akin fared worst against McCaskill in the late-July poll, still topping her by five percentage points. http://abcn.ws/TeLMXy
PALIN'S ENDORSEMENT STREAK BROKEN. Akin's win over front-runner John Brunner and former state treasurer Sarah Steelman breaks Sarah Palin's heretofore sterling record of GOP-Senate-primary endorsements in 2012. Palin cut a TV ad for Steelman last week and campaigned with her Friday near Kansas City. With Steelman's loss, Palin has gone 4-5 in endorsements: Indiana's Richard Mourdock, Nebraska's Deb Fischer, and Texas's Ted Cruz all won as Palin-backed tea-party insurgents. Palin also endorsed Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, who courted tea partiers before his primary. With the likely victory of Rep. Jeff Flake in Arizona, Palin figures to go 5-6 in 2012. http://abcn.ws/TeLMXy
BATTLE OF POLITICAL SCIONS GOES TO CLAY. In the latest redistricting battle between neighboring House Democrats, Rep. Lacy Clay, Jr. on Tuesday won the newly conglomerated St. Louis City district in a landslide over Rep. Russ Carnahan. The city is currently bisected by congressional-district lines, but Missouri will lose a seat next year, forcing a battle for the newly conglomerated St. Louis City district, mostly comprised of Clay's territory, between two prominent Missouri political family names. Clay took over the district in 2001 from his father, the state's first African-American representative; Carnahan is the son of former governor Mel Carnahan, who posthumously defeated John Aschcroft in the 2000 Senate race, and Jean Carnahan, who filled her late husband's seat. Carnahan didn't prove much of a challenge, as Clay won with 63 percent.
PRAY AWAY IN MISSOURI. Reiterating a protected right under the U.S. Constitution, on Tuesday Missouri voters overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the state constitution reiterating individuals' right to pray publicly. The amendment, proposed by a Republican state representative and voted onto the ballot by the General Assembly, asserts citizens' rights to pray in public and in schools, and it requires all public schools to display a copy of the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. Constitutional protections of speech and prayer have not kept school-prayer cases out of federal courts, leading to cases that have riled social conservatives.
VOTER ID LAW COULD THREATEN OBAMA'S RE-ELECTION PROSPECTS: Bloomberg's Michael C. Bender reports , "the new voter identification laws that restrict voting eligibility threaten President Barack Obama's re-election prospects. The laws - which critics say are likely to hurt minority-voting turnout - have been passed in several crucial swing states, including Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, and are being challenged by the Obama campaign and the Justice Department." http://bloom.bg/OYjFLq
ROMNEY SLIPS, REFERS TO SHOOTING SITE AS 'SHEIK' TEMPLE. ABC's Emily Friedman reports, Mitt Romney misspoke Tuesday night when referring to the shooting in Wisconsin that took place at a Sikh temple, mistakenly using an Arab honorific in reference to the religious group. Instead of saying that the shooting occurred at a Sikh temple, Romney referred to it as a sheik temple. Sheik is a Muslim term for the leader of a village or tribe. Sikhs are not Muslims. http://abcn.ws/P4B9aM
SUPER PAC BREWS UP PLAN FOR COMPROMISE. ABC's Amy Bingham reports, there is one key ingredient that has been standing between Congress and a compromise plan to balance the budget: Beer. That, at least, is what one federally-registered Super PAC is arguing. And in order to save the country from impending financial ruin, the Slam Dunks, Fireworks and Eagles Super PAC is legally collecting unlimited, largely-unregulated beer money to bring happy hour back to Capitol Hill. http://abcn.ws/MxgvjN
OBAMA'S RED STATE OUTREACH. Politico's Darren Samuelsohn reports: "President Barack Obama isn't giving up on red states. In fact, his campaign still considers states sure to go to Mitt Romney an integral part of its November election strategy. But the red state outreach isn't a mistake or an accident, Obama's campaign staffers say. They're not pretending they can win on reliably Republican turf, but they say this is part of a plan they'll stick to through Election Day. http://politi.co/S23Amv
OHIO ECONOMY IMPROVING, BUT RESIDENTS CAN'T FEEL IT. The Washington Post's Michael A. Fletcher reports: "Ohio is illustrative of the downside of a recovery that many people say they do not feel. There are some new jobs but, as the economy shifts, they do not always match workers' experiences. Here, as in other manufacturing states, those changes may mean a permanent deflation of incomes and expectations. The skepticism has not stopped President Obama and Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney from rushing in to take credit for the upswing. http://wapo.st/P4xd9V
EARLY VOTERS GAIN INFLUENCE. The Wall Street Journal's Andrew Grossman reports: "For an increasing number of voters, Election Day is becoming election month. A record number of Americans are expected to cast their ballots in the weeks before the traditional day of voting, the first Tuesday in November. The shift has the presidential campaigns changing their tactics and building operations aimed at turning out voters long before Election Day-even as early as September. The proportion of people voting early increased from 23% in 2004 to 31% in 2008, according to figures compiled by Michael McDonald of George Mason University in Virginia. The increase came in part because of a push by Barack Obama's campaign to take advantage of laws that allow early voting. http://on.wsj.com/QD1FHD
IN THE NOTE'S INBOX:
-MASSACHUSETTS GOP HOUSE CONTENDER LAUNCHES FIRST TV AD. Richard Tisei, the Republican candidate running in the 6th Congressional District of Massachusetts launches his first TV ad buy of the cycle today. The ad, titled "The District" is the first of a $43,000 cable ad buy. Tisei, whose race has gained national attention in part because he is an openly gay Republican candidate, is challenging Rep. John Tierney. The race is seen as the best shot for Republicans to pick up a House seat in Democrat heavy Massachusetts. WATCH: http://bit.ly/MucdK0
- ELIZABETH WARREN RELEASES NEW AD. Massachusetts Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren is out with a new ad today. In the ad, which is titled "Crushed," Warren argues that Washington needs to changes its priorities. "Our kids are crushed by debt and they didn't go on a shopping spree - they got an education?America ought to be investing in education and building a future for our kids. ?But Washington's giving billions to big oil and tax breaks to millionaires" she says in the ad. WATCH: http://bit.ly/QKaodm
with ABC's Arlette Saenz ( @ArletteSaenz)
-RYAN'S FAMILY VACATION: It is the heat of the veepstakes, but the timing also coincides with one of the busiest vacations months of the year as families decide to savor the final moments of summer before kids head back to school. And it look's like Paul Ryan and his family are planning on doing just that right as the Wisconsin representative's name is bandied about as one of the lead contenders for the number two spot. ABC News' John Parkinson confirmed Ryan is taking a week long vacation with his family in Colorado starting Saturday.
-THE PAWLENTY, PORTMAN BLITZ: While he campaigns in Iowa today, Mitt Romney will get a boost from two vice presidential hopefuls in two key swing states. Sen. Rob Portman will hop aboard a Romney bus for a five-stop day in Colorado while former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty will hold an event at a Victory Center in Jackson, Michigan.
-RNC SPEAKERS OFF VEEP LIST? NOT SO FAST - The Republican National Committee is slowly releasing a list of names of high profile Republicans, such as Condoleezza Rice and Rick Santorum, who will headline the GOP convention in Tampa later this month, but just because someone's name appears on this rundown doesn't mean they can be ruled out as candidates for Vice President. This, according to Mitt Romney himself, who suggested Tuesday the list could be a ruse. "You don't think that we would be so silly as to not provide, from time to time, the capacity to throw people off, do you? The fact that someone is speaking at the convention doesn't mean that they wouldn't necessarily find their speaking slot changed from one time to another," Romney said in a Fox News interview with Carl Cameron. http://abcn.ws/MuaTAQ
@RealClearScott : That Romney +5 # in Colorado is interesting. First time he's led in a poll there. http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2012/president/co/colorado_romney_vs_obama-2023.html#polls
@Kimsfirst : Time spent on VP pick scoop a waste. This is something we will all find out soon enough. Time better spent on facts we might NOT find out.
@ananavarro : Rumor Alert! Hearing 1st fundraiser w/Romney's VP candidate MAY be in St. Petersburg on Sunday. Is it a Floridian? Time to buy Romney VP App
-President Obama campaigns in Colorado.
-Mitt Romney campaigns in Iowa.
ABC's Josh Haskell ( @HaskellBuzz)
Check out The Note's Futures Calendar : http://abcn.ws/ZI9gV