Following the selection of Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate, Mitt Romney has narrowed his deficit against President Obama among likely voters in Florida and Wisconsin but not Ohio, according to a new Quinnipiac/New York Times/CBS News poll.
Mr. Obama now leads Mr. Romney in Florida 49 percent to 46 percent, down from 51 to 45 on Aug. 1. The president is up 49 percent to 47 percent in Wisconsin, Congressman Ryan’s home state, down from a six-point lead, 51 to 45, on Aug. 8. And Obama still leads Romney 50 percent to 44 percent in Ohio, unchanged from Aug. 1.
“Gov. Mitt Romney’s pick of US Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate has made some small difference in Florida and Wisconsin, at least at this point, when voters in these three key states are asked about their presidential vote,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, in a statement.
Of those three states, Ohio is the top bellwether, having voted for the winner in every presidential election since 1964, the longest winning streak of any state. But Romney’s four-point bounce in Wisconsin, similar to other recent polls, reinforces that state’s new status as a tossup state, along with Ohio, Florida, Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, Virginia, and New Hampshire.
On the plus side for Obama, the Romney-Ryan proposal for Medicare – the focus of significant attention since Ryan joined the ticket Aug. 11 – is widely unpopular in Florida, Ohio, and Wisconsin, the poll found. In all three states, fewer than one-third of likely voters approve of Romney’s plan to turn Medicare, the federal government’s health-insurance program for seniors, into a voucher-like system. About 6 in 10 want to keep Medicare the way it is, although the system is projected to become insolvent in 2024.
Ryan is the author of the House GOP's budget plan, which would change Medicare to a system of “premium support” in 10 years. Seniors would be given a fixed sum to purchase either private insurance or traditional Medicare. Democrats say that, over time, this system would fail to keep up with the rising cost of health care, leaving seniors to pay increasingly out of pocket.
Still, Ryan, a seven-term congressman, fared better in the poll than the current vice president, Joe Biden. In all three states, Ryan had slightly better net favorability ratings than Vice President Biden. On the question of which man is more qualified to serve as president, Biden beats Ryan by only narrow margins in Florida and Ohio, while voters in Wisconsin say Ryan is more qualified.
The poll was taken Aug. 15-21, mostly before the uproar over an inflammatory remark on abortion and rape by the Republican Senate nominee in Missouri, Rep. Todd Akin. Some 1,200 voters were polled in each state; the poll's margin of error is 2.8 percent.
In Florida and Ohio, senior citizens back Romney over Obama by a wide margin – in Florida, 55 percent to 42 percent, and in Ohio, 52 to 44. But in Wisconsin, the candidates are close, with Romney ahead 49 to 47.
The gender gap is wide in all three states. In Florida, women back Obama 53 percent to 41 percent, while men back Romney 51 to 45. In Ohio, women support Obama 54-41, while men narrowly back Romney 48-46. In Wisconsin, women back the president 52 percent to 43 percent, while men back Romney 51 to 46.