There were fresh signs yesterday that President Barack Obama is struggling to gain traction with America's voters less than six months before the presidential election and that his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, may be gathering strength.
A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed Mr Obama barely leading Mr Romney 47 per cent to 43 per cent, which lies within the statistical margin of error. A separate Quinnipiac University poll in the key state of Florida had him trailing Mr Romney by six points. A month ago, the president was leading by seven points.
There were also some red faces after the Democratic primaries in Kentucky and Arkansas on Tuesday. In the former, 40 per cent of voters chose "uncommitted" over the President and a similar proportion in the latter went for Democratic gadfly and lawyer, John Wolfe. Mr Obama has the nomination sewn up, but the results showed a big hole in support within his own party in the Appalachian South. There are certain states and constituencies that will never warm to Mr Obama, come what may. The fact that his support may have eroded so suddenly in Florida is serious, however, and will heighten concern that his chances of re-election are being dragged down a by an economic recovery that still hasn't taken off.
In turn, Republicans are showing signs of confidence in contrast to a few weeks ago when Mr Romney was still trying to pick himself up from his primary contests. "Romney is a lot better off than I expected him to be this quickly," party grandee and former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour told Politco.com.
"A lot of people were concerned that Romney, with his being the least conservative of all the Republican candidates, was going to have to work hard to unite the party – that he would have a serious sales job on his hands. But President Obama has apparently taken care of that for him."