Mitt Romney and President Obama are running extremely close in national polls, but Obama is cutting into Romney's longstanding lead as the candidate voters believe is most likely to restore the economy. That's according to a new New York Times/CBS News poll which finds that the only major issue which Romney holds an advantage over Obama is the handling of the federal budget deficit. On foreign policy, Medicare, and the middle class, Obama holds the advantage.
Overall, President Obama holds an advantage of 49 percent to 46 percent over Romney, thought that number is within the survey's margin of error (+/- 3 percentage points). But the data broken down along various indicators is where things get interesting.
Obama holds a 10-point lead on foreign policy, on the same week that Romney bungled his response to the Middle East anti-American embassy riots (though the survey was largely taken before this week).
Most Americans still believe the country is going in the wrong direction (57% compared to 38% who say it is moving in the right direction), and the most important issue in deciding how voters will cast their ballot continues to be the economy (28%) followed by jobs/unemployment (13%) and health care (12%).
Take a look at some of the other key responses:
- Obama favorable: 44% (unfavorable: 44%) ... Romney favorable: 37% (unfavorable: 38%).
- Which candidate would do more to help middle class Americans? Obama, 54%; Romney, 40%.
- If Romney were elected, his policies would favor: rich: 53% ... middle class: 8% ... poor: 1% ... treat all groups equally: 33%
- If Obama reelected, policies would favor: rich: 12% ... middle class: 26% ... poor: 22% ... treat all groups equally: 30%.
- Health-care law approval: 42% (disapproval: 50%); Repeal health-care law, in whole or in part: 58%
The picture of American voters created by the poll seems to suggest that if the election were held today, President Obama would be the victor, but the numbers are so close, and things could change quickly, so Romney still has a real chance. If voter pessimism about the economy and direction of the country continues, then his chance gets even bigger.
Still, it seems consistently to be the President who American voters feel better understands their needs. Romney comes off in polls as out of touch with the average American voter, polling well amongst rich people but far worse with middle or lower-income groups.
How the poll was conducted: The nationwide telephone survey was conducted from Sept. 8 through 12 among 1,170 registered voters, including those who were weighted by their responses to questions about voting history, attention to the campaign and likelihood of voting.