Poll: Obama holds edge nationally, ties Romney on economy

President Obama leads Mitt Romney by 3 percent in the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, released on Tuesday, but the survey shows voters still split on which candidate can best manage the economy and boost job growth.

Obama took 49 percent in the poll against Romney at 46. However, the president’s lead has dropped from 8 points in the same poll taken last month, where Obama garnered 51 percent support to 43 for the presumptive GOP nominee

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But on the matter of which candidate is better equipped to handle jobs and the economy, the issues that will likely be the most important to voters on Election Day, Obama and Romney each came in at 47 percent, and Romney has only a 1 percent lead, 46 to 45, on who would be better to kick-start the economy and create more jobs going forward, within the poll’s margin of error of 4.5 percent.

That’s good news for Obama, as most polling has so far has shown Romney with a healthy lead on all matters related to the economy.

The poll’s findings come as the Obama campaign has made Romney’s record as a former executive at private-equity firm Bain Capital the target of its early attacks, and there is some indication that these attacks could stick — 56 percent said America’s economic system favors the wealthy, while only 34 percent said the government meddling in the private sector was a more pressing concern.

Despite sluggish recent economic data, the survey found that 58 percent were more optimistic about their personal finances, while 54 percent were bullish about the economy in general.

Still, the new survey also holds bad news for the president on the economic front.

Obama has poor ratings on the economy overall, with 55 percent disapproving of his handling of it, versus 42 percent who approve.

One of the Romney campaign’s common slogans has been “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” and on that question, only 16 percent surveyed said they were, while 30 percent said they were worse off, and 53 about the same.

But voters don’t seem to think Romney would have done much better had he taken office in 2009 instead of Obama, with 19 percent saying they would likely be better off, 22 percent worse off and 48 percent about the same.

Obama continues to be the candidate more likely to connect with voters on a personal level, with 52 percent saying he has the better personal character to be president, against 39 percent for Romney.

Obama also occasions a more positive reaction among his supporters, with 91 percent saying they were enthusiastic about his candidacy, versus 73 percent for Romney. Those numbers are almost identical to the enthusiasm gap from Obama’s 2008 victory over Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

Obama’s approval rating remains near break-even, at 47 percent approval and 49 percent disapproval.

But Obama’s early lead in some polls was fueled by a massive gender gap, which Romney has been able to chip away at. Female voters still go for Obama 51 percent to 44 over Romney, but that’s down from 19 percent in previous polls.

The poll of 1,004 adults was conducted between May 17 and May 20 and has a 4.5 percent margin of error.

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