Mitt Romney has retaken the lead from President Obama in the latest Rasmussen tracking poll:
The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Friday shows Mitt Romney attracting 49% of the vote, while President Obama earns support from 44%. Three percent (3%) prefer some other candidate, and four percent (4%) are undecided.
The numbers are similar to the 49% to 43% advantage Romney enjoys on the question of who is trusted more to handle the economy.
Seventy percent (70%) of voters see Obama as politically liberal, while 67% see Romney as a conservative. However, the president is seen as more extreme ideologically. Forty-three percent (43%) see him as Very Liberal, while just 24% believe Romney is Very Conservative. Most voters are either politically Moderate or Somewhat Conservative. Sixty-two percent (62%) place Romney in that group while just 25% say the same for Obama.
Matchup results are updated daily at 9:30 a.m. Eastern (sign up for free daily e-mail update).
Romney's five-point advantage is the largest enjoyed by either candidate in just over a month. As with any such change in the race, it remains to be seen whether it marks a lasting shift or is merely statistical noise.
There is little doubt that the impetus for this change is "Four Little Words":
"You didn't build that" is swelling to such heights that it has the president somewhere unprecedented: on defense. Mr. Obama has felt compelled-for the first time in this campaign-to cut an ad in which he directly responds to the criticisms of his now-infamous speech, complaining his opponents took his words "out of context."
That ad follows two separate ones from his campaign attempting damage control. His campaign appearances are now about backpedaling and proclaiming his love for small business. And the Democratic National Committee produced its own panicked memo, which vowed to "turn the page" on Mr. Romney's "out of context . . . BS"-thereby acknowledging that Chicago has lost control of the message.
The Obama campaign has elevated poll-testing and focus-grouping to near-clinical heights, and the results drive the president's every action: his policies, his campaign venues, his targeted demographics, his messaging. That Mr. Obama felt required-teeth-gritted-to address the "you didn't build that" meme means his vaunted focus groups are sounding alarms.
The obsession with tested messages is precisely why the president's rare moments of candor-on free enterprise, on those who "cling to their guns and religion," on the need to "spread the wealth around"-are so revealing. They are a look at the real man. It turns out Mr. Obama's dismissive words toward free enterprise closely mirror a speech that liberal Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren gave last August.
The problem with the president's denials - and the denials of the liberal punditocracy who claim the attack is a "lie" - is that few believe that he really doesn't believe what he said. His claims to be in love with free enterprise and small businesses aren't credible considering the effect of his policies on both.
The Obama campaign's bigger problem, both sides are now realizing, is that his words go beyond politics and are more devastating than the Romney complaints that Mr. Obama is too big-government oriented or has mishandled the economy. They raise the far more potent issue of national identity and feed the suspicion that Mr. Obama is actively hostile to American ideals and aspirations. Republicans are doing their own voter surveys, and they note that Mr. Obama's problem is that his words cause an emotional response, and that they disturb voters in nearly every demographic.
That "emotional response" is why this issue won't go away like an ordinary gaffe or even Romney's tax returns that most voters say isn't really an issue. Americans aren't quite ready to abandon the notion of individual achievement - something the president is finding out to his detriment.