(CNN) - It's the state where Mitt Romney was born and where his father served as governor, but a new poll indicates President Barack Obama is leading the Republican nominee in the race for Michigan's 16 electoral votes.
According to a CNN/ORC International survey (PDF) released Wednesday, 52% of likely voters in Michigan say if the presidential election were held today, they'd vote for the president, with 44% saying they'd cast a ballot for Romney. The poll is the second in a week to indicate Obama with a lead. The president was up 47%-37% over Romney in an EPIC/MRA poll released last week. But polls conducted earlier this summer indicated a closer contest.
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The auto bailouts of General Motors and Chrysler may be a factor behind the new numbers in the state that's home to the domestic auto industry. They were prominently showcased during all three nights of the Democratic convention earlier this month, as was Romney's opposition to Washington's role.
The federal government's assistance of auto giants was started under President George W. Bush in 2008, but the next year Obama grabbed the keys to the program, managing and funding the bailouts of GM and Chrysler. Romney opposed the government bailout and pushed for a privately financed, managed bankruptcy of the two automakers.
According to the CNN poll, Obama piles up sizeable margins among his core groups, including women, union households, urban and younger voters, and those with lower incomes. But he also holds his own among men, higher-income Michiganders, and non-union households. He manages a 46%-46% tie among independent voters, and has a narrow deficit in the suburbs.
"One key to President Obama's strength may be the 51%-46% advantage he currently has among Michigan men," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "It has been suggested that the auto bailout is particularly popular among men in 'car cultures' like Michigan even if they do not directly make their living from the auto industry."
Romney was born in Detroit and raised in nearby Oakland County, but he loses both of those regions to Obama, according to the survey. Romney does best in the southwestern part of the state, including the Grand Rapids area, where he has a 19-point lead over Obama.
George H.W. Bush's 1988 victory in Michigan was the last time a Republican carried the state in a presidential contest. Obama won the state by 57%-41% over Sen. John McCain four years ago. The state is currently "lean Obama" in CNN's Electoral Map.
This cycle, since the unofficial start of the general election in early April, neither presidential campaign has spent money to run ads on broadcast TV in the state. SuperPACs and other independent advocacy groups backing Romney have spent over $6 million to run ads in Michigan, but that pales in comparison to other competitive states like Florida, Ohio and Virginia.
Wednesday Restore Our Future, a pro-Romney super PAC, announced that it was going to spend $2.2 million to run ads in Michigan and Wisconsin.
Obama has not visited Michigan since April. Romney and Ryan were last in the state in late August, just before the start of the Republican convention.
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"This was one of Governor Romney's top targets as he tried to expand his map - create more options to get to 270 – by putting the president on defense in some of the bigger blue states from 2008. They insist they haven't given up on Michigan, but the campaign isn't spending any TV money here, which speaks volumes," says CNN Chief National Correspondent John King. "Republicans had a great 2010 in Michigan, but when you talk to party leaders now, they are less and less optimistic that Romney can win here – and less and less certain he will even make a late push."
As for the "Restore Our Future" ad buy, King says it "looks like one last effort to budge the numbers now that the conventions dust has settled."
Also influencing the numbers in Michigan is the state of the economy. Michael Traugott, a professor of communications and political science at the University of Michigan, says one factor here is that while Michigan is hardly booming, things are a bit better than a few years ago.
"The economy is on an upward slope even though the magnitude of the slope is very small," Traugott told CNN. "Barack Obama also has a reservoir of popular support or sentiment about him personally, and views about how he cares for other Americans, that he can take advantage of and it's difficult for Romney to argue against."
According to the new poll, Green party nominee Jill Stein and U.S. Taxpayers party candidate Virgil Goode each at one percent among likely voters, with Natural Law party candidate Ross C. Anderson registered at less than one-half of one percent.
The survey was conducted mostly before Monday afternoon's release of secretly recorded remarks that Romney made at a private fund-raiser in May, where he described supporters of President Barack Obama as dependent on government. Fallout from the controversial clips has dominated coverage of the race for the White House over the past two days.
"As always, keep in mind that today's poll is not, and cannot be, a prediction of what will happen in November. One in eight likely voters say they could change their minds between now and Election Day, and with three key debates on the calendar, it's far too early to predict the final outcome in Michigan or any other state," adds Holland.
The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International from September 14-18, with 1,023 adults in Michigan, including 910 registered voters and 754 likely voters, questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error for registered and likely voters is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
It's doubtful he could wrangle a vote from his Mother or Father. Hell, my dogs got more sense than to vote for this idiot.
If the people in his HOME state won't even vote for him, why should we? Not gonna happen!
Obama leads by 14 in Wisconsin. Lucky for Mittens, he doesn't after to look for a real job after he loses.
Why is your station 100% Pro Mr Obama?
Detroit will do the right thing on election day and vote MITT the PATRIOT into the Whitehouse. I mean why not Oblunders never there any way. As our problems grow in the middle east Obammy aint no where to be found.
People are stupaid play game vote poll for obama
If obama will wins for presdient also he will be fail 4 next year
In the states that know Romney and Ryan best – Michigan, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin – voters are turning more and more to Obama. Maybe we should listen up to them.
Stick a fork in him, he's done – about to be singed beyond recognition.
My guess is the best Fascist wins.
Why is this a surprise????.... Obama easily won the state in 2008 57.35% – 40.90%
Remember when Al Gore lost Tennessee and conservatives said the state where the candidate is from knows the candidate best and therefore not voting for the candidate tells us all we need to know.
Let me guess. NOW you are going to be hypocritical and change your minds now that this has happened to a Republican.
it dont matter, romney will win despite of your media bias period,
But the Trees are the right height ...
Michigan was never in play. You can tell by where the campaigns are spending money and campaigning.
Hey Mitt stop flip flopping and try telling the truth oh I forgot you don't know how to do that do you and while you are at how about showing us those tax returns?
The more we get to know Romney, the less we like him.
Romney = Worst candidate for President in the last 100 years!
CNN can spin the news anyway they want, and at the moment they are doing everything they can to re-elect Barack Obama. CNN's coverage of this election is disgusting and deceitful.
The focus should be on the economy, the 26 million jobless Americans and the over 16 trillion dollar U.S. debt that Barack Obama has not addressed. How about the entire Middle East calling for the death of the United States ? No, CNN would rather focus on what Mitt Romney said. This is pathetic and dishonest as CNN ignores the real issues facing the country.
It is a shame that race and political correctness are more important then effective policy and addressing the many issues the country is facing. How about the fact that 15 million more people are on government assistance under Obama ? This president has failed and CNN, ABC, CBS and NBC are refusing to report the real issues that millions of Americans deal with everyday.
Too bad you over sampled Democrats by 6 points. Kinda makes this poll a little less impressive.
"A CNN Poll suggests"
Sure that's accurate.
Obama is Bush.
What's the matter Willard Mitt Robme? Did they finally catch up with you? I knew it was only a matter of time.
Ha HA. Mitt and Lyin Ryan, you are done. Give your pac money to the poor Americans
"it dont matter, romney will win despite of your media bias period"
English translation please....
Great news. At least Michigan is not believing robo-Robney's LIES. Really good news. So it's going to come down to white repuks who will blindly follow this yoyo.