And in a sign that the newfound negative tone of the campaign may be backfiring, the poll showed Obama's favorability ratings - always his strong suit - at an all-time low as president. Only 36 percent in the NYT/CBS poll view him favorably, a six-point drop over the last three months, with 48 percent viewing him unfavorably. Romney's favorables aren't good, either - 32/36 fav/unfav - but mutually assured destruction isn't going to win the election for the president.
The state-by-state numbers aren't any more encouraging. Quinnipiac's just-released poll of Virginiavoters shows Obama and Romney tied, with Obama only polling at 44 percent. Among non-college educated whites, Obama's job approval dropped even further, down to 29 percent, with only 40 percent of college-educated whites approving of his job performance. To compensate in the Old Dominion, Obama would need overwhelming support from minorities and turnout comparable to their 2008 levels.
All told, the numbers paint a picture of voters growing increasingly disillusioned with the president. By going hard negative against Romney, the president is landing some solid blows. But without much of a positive governing agenda to campaign on, it doesn't look like that will be enough by itself.