Voters in these swing states — all of which Obama won in 2008 — divide down the middle on whether their vote will be more about what the president has done in his first term or what they think he would do if reelected. That distinction makes a pivotal difference: Nationwide, political independents focused on a prospective second-term side with Obama over Romney, but those assessing Obama’s first term prefer Romney by more than 20 percentage points.
The challenge for the president may be trying to turn attention away from a stubbornly negative take on his performance. His overall rating hasn’t budged since May, with 47 percent of Americans approving and 49 percent disapproving, hardly the split an incumbent would hope to see when facing reelection. Intensity continues to run against him, with more people strongly disapproving of his work than strongly approving.
Supporters of President Obama and Mitt Romney appear locked in place
The Washington Post’s Felicia Sonmez reports on the latest fundraising figures in the presidential race.
On the campaign’s top issue, the economy, 54 percent of all adults and 60 percent of independents give Obama negative marks. But when measured against Romney on the economy, voters divide about evenly, with 48 percent saying they trust the former Massachusetts governor and 45 percent saying they have more faith in the president. Obama has a 12-point advantage on the question of which candidate has a clearer plan to deal with the country’s economic woes.
Obama’s biggest counterweight to the economic drag on his candidacy continues to be double-digit advantages among registered voters on important attributes. He has a clear lead over Romney on who has greater empathy for people facing economic problems and on standing up for his beliefs. On appearing “more friendly and likable,” Obama maintains an advantage of better than 2 to 1.
Even one-third of voters backing Romney consider the president to be the more likable of the two.
Americans split evenly on the Supreme Court’s recent 5 to 4 decision upholding Obama’s health-care law, with 42 percent approving of the decision and 44 percent opposing it. But in a significant change, the legislation is now viewed less negatively than it was before the ruling. In the new survey, 47 percent support the law and 47 percent oppose it. In April, 39 percent backed it and 53 percent opposed it.
House Republicans will vote again this week on a measure to repeal the health-care law. In the poll, just one-third of all Americans favor repealing the legislationin its entirety or in part. At the same time, Thirty-eight percent of Americans consider Romney’s support for repeal a major reason to vote for him, compared with 29 percent who say it is a major reason to vote against him.
Although the race remains close, Obama’s supporters are significantly more confident about the outcome. Nearly all voters who want the president to prevail say they expect him to win, whereas most, but far fewer, of Romney’s backers think he will win.
The telephone poll was conducted July 5 to 8 among a random national sample of 1,003 adults. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus four percentage points for the full sample as well as the sample of 855 registered voters.
Peyton M. Craighill and Scott Clement contributed to this report.