Obama leads Romney, but still vulnerable on economy, poll finds

A new poll shows President Obama with a strong edge over likely GOP opponent Mitt Romney on a range of key issues, but still vulnerable on his handling of the economy.

Obama holds double-digit leads over Romney on healthcare, foreign policy and women's issues, and voters say the president is more likable, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll released Tuesday. But the poll also finds Obama struggling to sell voters on his economic record.

ADVERTISEMENT
Forty-six percent of those polled say that Obama's handling of the economy would be a major reason to oppose his reelection, with 32 percent saying that issue would make them more likely to support him.

Romney tops the president on handling the economy, with 47 percent preferring his approach to 43 percent for the president.

On specific economic issues, the poll finds a small gap between the two candidates. Forty-seven percent polled say Obama would better support small businesses, to 45 percent for Romney. On creating jobs, Obama has a similarly small edge, with 46 percent preferring his positions to 43 percent for Romney. Those numbers fall within the poll’s 3.5 percent margin of error.


Overall, the poll finds Obama leading Romney by single digits among voters, 51 percent to 44, in a hypothetical November match-up. 

Obama has a strong margin among women, leading Romney 57 percent to 38. The president, however, trails among men by 8 points.

Those surveyed find the president more "friendly and likable" than his opponent by 64 percent to 26. Fifty-five percent of those surveyed say Obama is more “inspiring,” to 29 percent for Romney.

The president also enjoys a wide lead on many key issues. 

On healthcare, Obama has a 48 percent to 38 advantage. Those numbers are a positive sign for the campaign, which faces the prospect of the Supreme Court striking down the president’s signature domestic achievement, healthcare reform, ahead of the general election.

On foreign policy, Obama holds a 17-point edge, with 53 percent of those surveyed preferring Obama's approach to 36 percent for Romney.

On addressing women's issues, voters backed Obama 53 percent to 34.

Romney, however, holds a double-digit lead on tackling the federal budget deficit. Fifty-one percent of those polled support Romney's position to 38 percent for Obama.

The poll’s results come as both Romney and Obama have begun trading punches ahead of their expected November match-up.

Romney holds a greater than two-to-one edge in delegates over his GOP rivals and has seen a wave of endorsements from prominent Republicans eager for him to wrap up a protracted nomination fight and redirect his attention to the president.

Obama's campaign has made efforts to paint Romney, the former CEO of Bain Capital, a private equity firm, as out of touch with the concerns of Americans struggling in the recovering economy. 

Forty-nine percent of those surveyed said Obama would do better "protecting the middle class," with 39 percent picking Romney. Similarly, 49 percent of voters say Obama better understands the country's economic concerns, to 37 percent for Romney.

But the poll also shows that Democratic attacks on Romney's wealth may be failing to rally voters.

While 19 percent say Romney's personal wealth is a reason to oppose his candidacy, 71 percent say it would not affect their vote.

On Tuesday, the president will travel to the key battleground state of Florida to push for the Buffett Rule, which calls for the wealthiest to pay more in taxes, an issue Democrats are also using to hammer Romney on his own tax record.

Romney paid approximately 14 percent on his income of $21 million in 2010, his records show.

On Monday, Obama campaign manager Jim Messina blasted Romney, claiming his economic agenda would only aid millionaires.

“Romney’s plan looks out for people just like him,” said Messina. “He’s trying to obscure how much he would benefit by hiding his own tax records.”

The Washington Post/ABC News poll was conducted from April 5 to 8 and has a 3.5 percent margin of error.

This story was updated at 7:27 a.m.