On personal traits, the president’s edge is even bigger: He has a better than 2-to-1 advantage as the more friendly and likable of the two, and nearly that margin as “more inspiring.”
Romney faces a huge deficit among female voters, one that more than negates his advantage among men and represents one of the biggest challenges he and his advisers face as they turn toward the November election. Obama’s edge among women gives him a clear lead among all registered voters in a matchup with Romney.
But on the two most pressing issues of the campaign — the economy and jobs — the contest is considerably more competitive, with about as many trusting Romney on the issues as Obama. Despite positive economic indicators, Americans remain deeply pessimistic about the overall direction of the country and largely consider the economy still mired in a recession. The Romney campaign is hoping to take advantage by making the contest about Obama’s performance on these key concerns.
Obama’s overall approval rating stands at 50 percent, but he draws negative marks on how he has dealt with the economy and the recent increase in gasoline prices. Nearly half of all Americans say his handling of the economy is a major reason to oppose his reelection; far fewer see it as a big reason to support his bid.
Romney holds a double-digit lead over Obama on just one issue tested in the poll: who would better deal with the federal budget deficit.
In the Republican primary race, Romney holds a commanding lead over his rivals — former senator Rick Santorum (Pa.), former House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) and Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.).
Conducted after Romney’s wins last week in Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia, the poll shows 44 percent of Republican and GOP-leaning independent voters saying they would like Romney to be the nominee and 25 percent choosing Santorum, with the others well behind.
In what may be a sign that Republicans are accepting that Romney is likely to be the nominee, a majority of those backing one of his rivals prefer Romney to a late entrant into the race.
Nonetheless, a slim majority of all Republicans and GOP-leaning independents say Santorum, who has been the surprise challenger, should keep running. Much of that support comes from evangelical Christians, who have been his most significant backers through the primary contests. In contrast, sizable majorities say Gingrich and Paul should quit the race.
Most Republicans think Romney has been strengthened for the general election by the nomination contest, but pluralities of Democrats and independents say the opposite.