Public Policy Polling Media Alert: Romney leads by a point in Iowa and New Hampshire

PPP's newest polls in Iowa and New Hampshire find Mitt Romney leading Barack Obama 49-48 in both states. That represents a big decline for Obama compared to last month. Obama had previously led 51-44 in Iowa and 51-43.5 in New Hampshire on polls conducted the final week of September.

Mitt Romney's seen a big improvement in his image in both states. In Iowa his net favorability has improved 16 points from a -15 spread at 40/55 on our last poll to now 48/47. He's seen a 10 point ascent on that front in New Hampshire from -5 at 45/50 when we last looked at his favorability in August to now 51/46. Obama's approval numbers have declined. He was at 49/48 the last time we polled each of these states, but now he's dropped to 46/50 in Iowa and 47/51 in New Hampshire.

Romney has a big advantage on the economy in both of these states that seems to be driving his lead. In New Hampshire voters prefer Romney 52/45 on that front and in Iowa it's 49/45. Voters are closely divided between the two candidates on the issue of Libya, favoring Romney 47/46 in New Hampshire and 46/44 in Iowa. Obama does have a wide lead on women's issues in both states, 56/39 in New Hampshire and 49/44 in Iowa.

Obama's decline in these states  is particularly large compared to his national drop over the last month, but it's a reflection of the demographics in them. Obama has fallen much further with white voters than African Americans or Hispanics and in states like Iowa and New Hampshire where almost the entire population is white it stands to reason that he would have a bigger decline.

Voters in both Iowa (45/36) and New Hampshire (46/38) do think that Obama won the debate on Tuesday night. But unlike Romney's win in the first debate this one doesn't seem to be moving the needle too much.

State specific notes from Iowa:

-Obama has opened up a huge lead among early voters, 66-32. Those folks represent 31% of the electorate. But with the 69% of folks who have yet to cast their ballots, Romney leads 56-39.

-Obama is actually winning independent voters 46/42, but Republicans have built a registration advantage in the state over the last four years and Romney's small lead is largely a reflection of that.

-Obama is up 60/38 with voters under 65, but he's losing every other age group.

-Iowa's Supreme Court retention election looks like it could be pretty close. Right now 37% of voters say they plan to keep David Wiggins in office, while 43% say they're inclined to remove him. With 20% of voters still undecided it could go either way, but Republicans (65%) are more committed to removing him right now than Democrats (59%) are to keeping him.

-Looking ahead to 2014 Terry Branstad has the best approval numbers we've found for him since he took office with 51% of voters happy with the job he's doing to 33% who disapprove. He leads a generic Democrat 53-34. Tom Harkin could be vulnerable in 2014. His approval numbers are split down the middle at 40% and he leads a generic Republican foe only 45-42. Chuck Grassley continues to be the most popular politician in the state with a 54/28 approval rating.

State specific notes from New Hampshire:

-Just like in Iowa Obama is winning the independent vote, 51/45 in this case. But there's been a considerable up tick in voters identifying themselves as Republicans in the state over the last month, fueling Romney's overall slight lead.

-Democratic Maggie Hassan is holding on to a narrow advantage over Republican foe Ovide Lamontagne in the Governor's race, 45/43. She has a positive 41/39 favorability rating, while Lamontagne is unpopular with voters in the state who give him a 41/45 spread. Hassan is both winning independents (45/37) and benefiting from a more unified party base with 85% of Democrats supporting her to 79% of Republicans who are behind Lamontagne.

-John Lynch has a 62/25 approval rating, making him the most popular Governor in the country that we've polled this year. Kelly Ayotte (48/35) has a better approval rating than Jeanne Shaheen (46/39), but Shaheen leads a generic Republican opponent for reelection in 2014 48/42.

This analysis is also available on our website:

I’m not attaching the full results because the file is so large, but you can see those here: