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California Presidential Poll: Obama Opens Massive Lead Over Romney

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The last couple weeks of have been rough on GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

A lackluster post-convention bounce combined with a series of embarrassing gaffes have allowed President Barack Obama to open up a sizable lead in the polls over the former Massachusetts governor; a rare sight in what's largely been, up to this point, a relatively tight national race.

In California, a bright blue state that Obama easily carried in 2008, the president's lead over his Republican challenger has grown to nothing short of insurmountable.

A Field Poll taken in the wake of both parties' conventions shows Obama leading Romney by a 24 point margin among likely California voters. That's a growth of six points from another statewide Field poll taken in July.

The number of undecided voters and those supporting other candidates stayed constant in both polls at eight percent.

These changes are indicative of both Golden State voters' growing distaste for Romney and an increased appreciation for the Obama's performance in the Oval Office. The poll found 58 percent of Californians approve of the job Obama is doing as president, as opposed to 35 percent who disapprove.

Sixty-one percent of likely California voters have a favorable impression of President Obama, the same number as viewed him favorably in 2008 when he was first elected to the presidency. This metric is up from a historic low of 53 percent when the same poll was taken in May.

Romney's favorability ratings have stayed relatively constant in the upper 30 percent range since last June, although his unfavorable ratings have gradually climbed from 34 to 53 percent.

Obama now leads Romney with voters in all age groups, ethnicities, genders, education levels and in all regions of the state save for the Central Valley.

The ubiquity of Obama's lead, however, was not always the case. When the same poll was conducted in July, Romney led the president in inland counties, portions of Southern California outside of the Los Angeles area and portions of Northern California outside the San Francisco Bay Area with voters 65 years old and over.

Poll Director Mark DiCamillo explained to the Sacramento Bee that the recent tragic events in Libya likely bolstered the president's image:

DiCamillo...noted positive marks increased in the last half of interviews done for the California poll because they were conducted after the deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya.

Poll respondents often respond positively toward their leaders and their nation after a tragedy, DiCamillo said, because the event is seen as a rallying cry and leaders are placed in situations that draw positive attention.

Encouraging news on the domestic front may also be putting some electoral wind into the president's sails. Recent months have seen strong job growth in California, a state that was among the hardest hit by the bursting of the housing bubble and the subsequent recession. In the months of May, June and July, half of all the job growth in the country happened in the Golden State.

Even so, the economic picture in California is far from rosy. California's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stands at 10.7 percent, nearly 2.5 percent above the national unemployment rate. Nearly two million Californians are without jobs and newly released census data shows that between 2006 and 2011, the state's median household income fell to its lowest level since 1994.

Obama's lead over Romney isn't just occurring in states everyone expected him. Recent polls have shown the president opening up leads in swing states like Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin.

The Huffington Post's own tracking of presidential polls shows Obama leading with 317 electoral votes to Romney's 191; 270 electoral votes are needed to win.

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