Poll: Independents and men boost Obama

President Obama has opened up a 7-point lead over Mitt Romney nationally, according to a CNN-ORC poll released on Thursday.

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Obama leads Romney 52 percent to 45, according to the poll.

While Obama is only up by 4 percentage points nationally, according to the RealClearPolitics average of polls, the CNN-ORC survey is the second poll this week to show Obama with a 7-point lead. Obama led Romney 49 percent to 42, according to a Reuters-Ipsos poll released earlier this week.

Obama’s lead in the CNN-ORC poll is buoyed by men and independents — two groups that until recently had favored Romney. Obama leads 53 percent to 42 among independents, and has a 6 percentage point advantage among men.

Romney’s unfavorability rating climbed considerably in the poll. While his favorability rating remained steady at 47, those who view him negatively climbed from 42 percent to 49.

It’s the second poll this week to show a rise in Romney’s unfavorables. A new Washington Post/ABC News poll released Wednesday showed that while 40 percent of voters say they hold favorable views on Romney, a number unchanged since May, those with negative views grew from 45 percent to 49.

Romney was plagued by a historically low favorability rating throughout the Republican primaries, and the latest polling data is a sign the presumptive GOP nominee could be failing to connect with voters with only three months until Election Day.

Perhaps contributing to Romney’s slide in favorability has been the Obama campaign’s attempt to portray the former Massachusetts governor as out-of-touch due to his considerable wealth.

Sixty-four percent said Romney favors the rich over the middle class, including 68 percent of independents. Democrats have piled on Romney for not releasing more tax returns, and the poll found that Americans agree — 63 percent said he should release more, including 67 percent of independents.

But perhaps the poll’s most troubling finding for Romney regards his central argument for election — that his success in the private sector makes him better qualified to steer the economy. Obama now leads on the question of who would be better to turn the economy around, 48 percent to 45, over Romney. Romney was at 50 percent in May.

The CNN poll of 1,010 adults, including 911 registered voters, was conducted between Aug. 7 and 8 and has a 3 percent margin of error.