A plurality of voters, 43 percent, say the nation’s economy has gotten worse since Obama took office, while fewer, 32 percent, say it has improved. The rest say it has stayed about the same. Those who see no improvement largely blame the president, although just 38 percent say they think things would be better now had Romney become president in 2009.
The rhetorically powerful “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” question was a centerpiece of the Republican convention, and in the poll, more voters say they are worse off, rather than better, under Obama. But unlike those who see no progress for the national economy, those who view themselves as no better off since Obama became president are divided on whether they blame him for the lack of improvement.
Overall, voters split evenly between Romney and Obama when it comes to supporting small businesses, but Romney has exploitable advantages here. He has said repeatedly that he knows more about building businesses than Obama, and voters agree. About two-thirds say Romney understands what it takes to create a successful small business, while there is a split verdict on Obama. By 53 percent to 35 percent, more say government programs do more to hamper than bolster small businesses.
Obama has hammered Romney for not explaining the details of his tax and budget proposals, and 61 percent of voters say the Republican has not done enough to lay out the policies he would enact. But for the incumbent, things are hardly positive here: Six in 10 Americans agree that Romney has not done enough to provide those details. But 49 percent also say Obama hasn’t done enough to specify a second-term agenda.
The new poll shows an electorate more tuned into the campaign than it was two weeks ago, with enthusiasm and the solidity of voters’ preferences reaching new highs for the cycle. More than six in 10 voters say they need no more information to make a choice, indicating a hardening of the battle lines, as well as the dwindling number of truly undecided or “movable” voters.
More than nine in 10 Obama supporters say they are enthusiastic, with 56 percent saying they are “very enthusiastic.” Almost nine in 10 Romney backers say they are enthusiastic, with 46 percent saying they are strongly backing him.
Although Obama outpaces Romney when it comes to enthusiastic backers, he has fewer such supporters now than he did at this time four years ago. And younger people are notably less enthusiastic and less certain they will vote than they were in 2008.
The telephone poll was conducted Sept. 7 to 9 among a random national sample of 1,002 adults, including 826 registered voters. The margin of sampling error among the sample of registered voters is plus or minus four percentage points.
Peyton M. Craighill, Scott Clement and Jenna Fulton contributed to this report.