For most of the year, Gallup’s Tracking poll has found President Barack Obama leading Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. However, since the first presidential debate on October 3rd in Denver Romney has surpassed the president and has held on to the lead. Thus far, Gallup has detected little effect from the vice presidential debate. The effect of the second presidential debate, in which Obama is believed to have had the edge, remains to be seen.
Gallup’s cross tabs reveal Obama is losing substantially compared to 2008 among Southerners, college graduates, Protestants, men, and white voters. In 2008, the South voted equally for Obama and McCain; today, Romney has garnered a 22-point lead over Obama among Southerners. At the same time, Obama still leads in the rest of the country, but by smaller margins than he did four years ago.
Also in 2008, Obama won college graduates by 2 points and the postgraduate vote by 30 points. However, today Obama now trails Romney by 22 points among college graduates, and his margin among postgraduates has been cut in half. Men were evenly divided between Obama and McCain in 2008, but today Romney has a 14-point advantage among men. Obama continues to enjoy a 6-point margin among women; however, this is less than half what it was in 2008.
Obama lost the Protestant vote in 2008 by 6 points, but this trail has tripled to 18 points in 2012. While Obama has maintained his substantial lead among non-white voters, his support among white voters has declined since 2008 producing a 22-point deficit.
Obama continues to lead among young people, but has lost his lead among those 30-64. Although he won both these groups in 2008, he trails by 10 points among those 30-49 and is even with Romney among those 50-64.
In sum, the most dramatic shifts have been among Southerners, college graduates, and those 30-49 years old.