But among a wider sample of all registered voters, Obama holds an apparent edge, topping Romney at 50 percent to 44 percent, and has clear advantages on important issues in the campaign when compared with his rival.
The survey highlights why Obama continues to try to frame the election as a choice between himself and Romney, while Romney would like it to be a referendum on the president’s record.
The poll represents the initial public reaction to the two back-to-back conventions, and the results underscore how critical get-out-the vote efforts will be to the outcome of the contest.
With only Labor Day weekend separating the conventions in Tampa and Charlotte, and the barrage of television advertising and campaign activity preceding them, the events’ impact on the campaign may be less than in previous years.
Historically, candidates often get an immediate post-convention boost, with some of the shift dissipating quickly. Obama has a six-point edge among all voters based on interviews Friday, the day after the Democratic convention wrapped up. In interviews Saturday and Sunday, the two were about evenly matched among registered voters.
Obama’s relative strength emerges when all voters are asked to compare the two contenders on a series of issues and attributes. On 15 items, Obama has significant leads on eight, Romney on zero. Romney also no longer has the pre-convention advantages he held on dealing with the economy and what had been his best issue, handling the federal deficit.
The president holds double-digit leads in areas of particular focus at his party’s convention, including addressing women’s issues (Obama leads Romney by 21 percentage points), advancing the interests of the middle class (15 points), and social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage (11 points). Obama also has a fresh, albeit slender, lead on dealing with taxes.
Three new questions emphasize the president’s advantage over Romney when it comes to personal attributes. By a margin of nearly 20 points, voters are more apt to say they would like to have Obama as a dinner guest, and the president also leads by double digits as the person voters would want to take care of them if they were sick and who they say would make a more loyal friend.
But the poll also shows how hard it is to translate any of these advantages on attributes into electoral gains. Despite a feverish effort at the Democratic convention, neither Obama nor his prominent supporters were able to reverse disapproval of the president’s handling of the economy, the dominant issue in the campaign, or inspire confidence that things will pick up if he is reelected.