Poll finds Mitt Romney closing favorability gap with President Obama

President Obama has the lowest pre-convention favorability ratings for any incumbent since the 1980s, a new poll finds, while his rival Mitt Romney is seeing gains following the GOP convention in Tampa, Fla.

A new ABC News/Washington Post poll released late Tuesday finds the president’s popularity under water, with 47 percent of registered voters viewing him favorably and 49 percent unfavorably. In the same poll taken last month, Obama was at 50 percent favorable to 47 percent unfavorable.

Obama is the first incumbent in the survey to have a higher unfavorable than favorable rating. Obama’s rating is lower than President George W. Bush in 2004 (54 percent), Bill Clinton in 1996 (56 percent), George H.W. Bush in 1992 (57) and Ronald Reagan in 1984 (60).

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Romney was also under water, at 48 percent unfavorable and 43 favorable. But those figures represent an improvement from before last week’s GOP convention in Tampa, Fla. Before the Republican gathering, Romney was at 51 percent unfavorable and 40 favorable.

The troubling numbers for Obama come as Democrats convene in Charlotte, N.C., this week. The president is slated to speak on Thursday night.

The new ABC/Post poll shows Obama in positive territory with men, with 50 percent favorable to 47 unfavorable. But the president has a 4-point gap with women, who view him unfavorably, 50 percent to 46.

Romney, though, has a tougher challenge with female voters, with 48 percent viewing him unfavorably and 41 percent favorably. But those figures show gains from his pre-convention 55-to-34 percent net unfavorable rating.

Polls suggest Romney is gradually cutting into Obama’s edge among women.  In a separate ABC/Post poll released last week, Romney trailed Obama among female voters, 49 percent to 43. 

Obama tops Romney among self-identified moderate voters at 57 to 40 net favorable. Romney is at 36 percent favorable to 54 unfavorable.

Both candidates are under water among independents, with Obama viewed unfavorably by 51 percent, to 45 favorable. Romney is at 36 percent favorable to 53 unfavorable, a 17-point gap.

The ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted from Aug. 29 to Sept. 2 and has a 3.5 percent margin of error.