Poll: Obama holds 17-point advantage over Romney on likability

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For Romney, the No. 2 characteristic associated with his personality was a willingness to change his positions on issues for political reasons — a discouraging sign for a candidate looking to shed his "Etch A Sketch" caricature. But recent moves on gay marriage and immigration could have also hurt Obama on that metric — some six in 10 Americans also say Obama changes his positions for political reasons, nearly as many as Romney.

Americans are more likely to see the president as honest, trustworthy and understanding about the problems ordinary Americans face on a daily basis. And while more than half of Americans surveyed — 53 percent — say Obama shares their values, only 45 percent say the same of his Republican challenger. But Romney scores higher marks for being strong and decisive, and voters are more inclined to believe he can manage government effectively.

"Being able to manage government could be a particularly persuasive argument in an election year likely to be decided on economic issues. The downside for Romney is currently that is his only clear advantage over Obama in terms of personal qualities, so he would have little else to fall back on in that area," Gallup's Jeffrey M. Jones said in a press release.

But neither man ranks particularly well when voters were asked if he had a clear plan for solving the country's problems. Only four in 10 said that metric applied to Obama, good for a two-point advantage over Romney.

"Since neither candidate currently has an advantage in leadership, Romney's best argument for convincing voters to support him may be his ability to manage government," Jones said.