(Joshua Roberts/BLOOMBERG)

House Speaker John A. Boehner’s recent prediction that 95 percent of voters will see this November’s election purely as a referendum on President Obama is falling a little short, at least so far, according to the new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The poll finds that just 59 percent of Mitt Romney’s backers say their vote this November will be “against” Obama. As colleagues Dan Balz and Jon Cohen write today, the president still benefits from a clear, but dwindling, enthusiasm gap. Just over half, 51 percent, of Obama supporters back his candidacy “very enthusiastically,” compared with 38 percent of Romney’s. And 75 percent of Obama supporters say their vote is “for” the president — a higher percentage of positive motivation among voters than enjoyed by Romney.

Boehner (R-Ohio) made his prediction about the size of the anti-Obama vote during a June 30 fundraiser in Wheeling, W. Va. while delivering a frank assessment of Romney’s chances. According to news accounts, Boehner said that most voters “probably aren’t going to fall in love with Mitt Romney” and would vote based on their opinion of Obama.

Asked Tuesday whether his comments signaled a less-than enthusiastic opinion of Romney, Boehner told reporters: “I’m going to be enthusiastic about voting for Governor Romney in November and I think the American people will be enthusiastic about voting for Governor Romney in November.”

The speaker said the election “is going to be a referendum on the president’s failed economic policies. His policies have made the economy worse. . .they just haven’t worked and they really have made it worse. So it’s going to be a referendum. I’ll be out there enthusiastically supporting” Romney.

So what exactly did Boehner say back in Wheeling last month that concerned folks in the crowd? According to Roll Call, a woman in the audience at the fundraiser asked Boehner, “Can you make me love Mitt Romney?”

“No,” Boehner said. “Listen, we’re just politicians. I wasn’t elected to play God. The American people probably aren’t going to fall in love with Mitt Romney. I’ll tell you this: 95 percent of the people that show up to vote in November are going to show up in that voting booth, and they are going to vote for or against Barack Obama.”

“Mitt Romney has some friends, relatives and fellow Mormons ... some people that are going to vote for him. But that’s not what this election is about. This election is going to be a referendum on the president’s failed economic policies.

“Mitt Romney believes, just like we do, that if we’re going to get the economy back, if we’re going to put the American people back to work, we need to fix the tax code, we need to stop the regulatory juggernaut that’s going on in Washington and we need to fix our economy. Solid guy, he’s going to do a great job, even if you don’t fall in love with him.”

Agree or disagree with the speaker’s comments? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Follow Ed O’Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost

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