Poll: Obama leads Romney overall, trails on economic issues

A new poll shows that Mitt Romney’s selection of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) as running mate failed to give him a boost in the polls, leaving the presumptive GOP nominee locked in a tight race with President Obama.

A new Associated Press-GfK poll released Wednesday shows Obama leading, with the support of 47 percent of registered voters to 46 for the Republican ticket.

Those numbers show little change from a June AP-GfK poll, which found Obama topping Romney 47 percent to 44.

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But Romney’s failure to pull ahead is hurting him perception-wise. Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed said they expected Obama to win, with 32 percent believing he would be defeated.

The poll finds Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman, with a net positive favorability rating after a week and a half on the campaign trail.

Thirty-eight percent have a favorable view of Ryan, to 34 unfavorable. Ryan fares better among registered voters, who split 40 percent favorable to 34 unfavorable. But the poll finds that the seven-term Wisconsin lawmaker is still unknown to a quarter of voters.

On one of Ryan’s signature issues, Medicare, the poll finds those who see it as an important issue back Obama by 49 percent, to 44 for Romney. 

The poll also finds Obama viewed more favorably than Romney. Fifty-three percent hold a “favorable” view of Obama to 44 who have a positive view of Romney.

Asked which candidate better “understands the problems of people like you,” Obama tops Romney 51 to 36. Voters also say Obama would be a stronger leader than Romney, 50 percent to 41.

But, while he is trailing overall, the poll holds bright spots for the Romney campaign. The former Massachusetts governor leads among undecided “true” independents by 41 percent to 30. 

Voters are also split on Obama’s first term, with 49 percent approving of his job performance and 49 percent disapproving.

Voters continue to say the economy is the central issue in the campaign, with nine in 10 saying it is an important issue and about half of those voters calling it “extremely important.”

Romney holds a slight edge on economic issues, with 48 percent saying they would favor him to handle the recovery to 44 percent for Obama. But among independents, Romney’s lead swells: 46 percent to 27 support the GOP candidate on managing the economy.

Overall, 47 percent say Romney would do better boosting job growth to 43 for the president. Those surveyed also back Romney to tackle the federal deficit by 50 percent to 40 over Obama.

On social issues, Obama holds an edge on Romney. Voters say they prefer Obama’s stance on abortion, 52 percent to 35. Other polls have shown Obama with a strong lead among female voters, an edge that could grow amid the controversy over Rep. Todd Akin’s (R-Mo.) comments on rape and abortion.

Romney and much of the GOP leadership have urged Akin to exit Missouri’s Senate race after he said that in cases of “legitimate rape,” the female body can prevent pregnancies — but Akin has rebuffed those calls.

The poll was conducted from Aug. 16-20 and has a 4-percentage-point margin of error.