Rocco DeRose, Staff Writer
As the presidential campaign entered it’s final week, Barack Obama had failed to regain much of the support he lost in the days following the first presidential debate and the race was even among likely voters: 47% favor Obama, while an identical percentage supports Mitt Romney.
The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Oct. 24-28 among 1,678 registered voters, including 1,495 likely voters, finds Obama holding a statistically insignificant two-point edge among registered voters: 47% to 45%. This is little different from the 46% to 46% standoff among registered voters observed in early October, in the days following the first debate.
When the sample is narrowed to likely voters, the balance of opinion shifted slightly in Romney’s direction, as it did in early October. This reflects Romney’s turnout advantage over Obama, which figured to loom larger on Election Day. In both October surveys, more Republicans and Republican leaners than Democrats and Democratic leaners were predicted to be likely voters. In September, the gap was more modest.
Indeed, surveys over the past month had found Republicans becoming much more upbeat about the race and about Mitt Romney himself. More Republicans saw the campaign as interesting and informative. And compared with September, a greater proportion of Romney voters now said they were voting for him rather than against Obama. The deadlock in candidate support continued to reflect the offsetting strengths and weaknesses of the two candidates. Romney’s personal image had improved substantially since the summer, and his favorability rating among registered voters (50 percent) was about the same as Obama’s (52 percent).
But Obama continued to lead his rival on many personal characteristics and issues. Obama was seen as the candidate with more moderate positions on issues and as more willing to work with members of the other party. He also held wide advantages on empathy and consistency. Obama lead Romney by about two-to-one (59 to 31) as the candidate who connected well with ordinary Americans, and by 51 to 36 as the candidate who took consistent positions on issues.
Obama also lead Romney by nine points on better representing voters’ views on abortion and by about the same margin (50 to 42) on making wise decisions about foreign policy.
Moreover, majorities of voters continued to agree with criticisms frequently lodged against Romney. About six-in-ten (61 percent) agreed that Romney is “promising more than he can deliver” while 53 percent said “it’s hard to know what Romney really stands for.” Both percentages are virtually unchanged since early October.
Romney’s strengths – and Obama’s weaknesses – continue to be the economy and the budget deficit. More see the former Massachusetts governor as better able to improve the job situation, by a 50 percent to 42 percent margin. Half of voters agreed that “Obama doesn’t know how to turn the economy around.” And more voters said Romney has new ideas than say that about Obama (46 vs. 41).
The poll found that this year’s debates collectively have had a much more positive impact on opinions of Romney than on views of Obama. Twice as many voters said they had a better opinion of Romney as a result of the debates than say that about Obama (36 vs. 18).
The poll found familiar divides in support patterns among likely voters. Among age cohorts, Millennials continued to support Obama, while Gen Xers and Boomers split their support between the two candidates. Voters in the Silent Generation support Romney by a wide margin. Whites, especially working class whites, strongly favored Romney, while African-Americans overwhelmingly favor Obama.