Mitt Romney is building a huge lead over President Barack Obama among the vital independent voters who are likely to decide November’s election, a new Fox News poll shows.
The two men are tied in the survey, each receiving 46 percent support, but Romney now holds a 13-percentage point lead over the president among voters who say they are not tied to either party.
That is more than double the lead that the presumptive GOP candidate had with independents just two weeks ago in a similar poll. When the question was asked in an earlier poll in March the two candidates were tied among independents.
The Fox poll and another by Purple Strategies that concentrated on 12 swing states both showed that the race for the White House is still too close to call. Purple’s Doug Usher said in the four states that his group view as the most crucial, Obama leads in Ohio and Virginia, they are tied in Colorado and Romney is ahead in Florida.
“These four states are most likely to swing this election, and today they are just about as tight as can be,” said Usher, Purple’s managing partner for research.
The Purple Poll put Romney ahead among independents by two points, 46 to 44. In Purple’s March poll, Obama had an 8 point lead among Independents.
However Purple gave Obama a 48 to 44 percent lead overall in the dozen states.
Fox asked 915 registered voters their views on not only the candidates but their wives too. Michelle Obama came out as by far the most popular of the four, with 65 percent saying they had a positive view of her, compared with 50 percent for her husband and 42 percent for Romney. Ann Romney only got a 39 percent favorable view as one in three voters said they had either never heard of her or didn’t know enough about her to form an opinion.
The Fox poll also showed that the younger a voter is, the more likely he or she is to prefer the GOP man. Romney won by 49 to 44 percent among under-35s, and by 47 to 44 percent with those between 35 and 54. However Obama won by 49 to 43 percent among 55-64 year-olds and by 51 to 41 percent among seniors.
Both Fox and Purple showed that women favor Obama while men are more likely to vote for Romney. “The gender gap remains exceptionally strong in President Obama’s favor,” said Usher.
The Fox poll also asked several questions concerning the candidates’ wives, following Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen’s comment that Ann Romney had “never worked a day in her life.” It showed:
* 72 percent thought Rosen’s comment was a “cheap shot” while 60 percent thought a stay-at-home mom job is tougher than a political strategist’s;
* By a narrow 49 to 45 percent margin, voters think candidates’ spouses should be off limits for criticism even if they campaign publicly;
* Being a working mother is harder than being a stay-at-home mom, according to 49 percent of respondents, while 29 percent thought the opposite and 16 percent thought the two options were equal.
Purple’s Usher said Romney’s favorability has increased markedly since the bruising primary season effectively came to an end after Santorum’s April 10 withdrawal. “Over the course of the primary campaign, Mitt Romney’s popularity sank steadily in Purple States to a low point of 27 percent favorable, 57 percent unfavorable. In our most recent poll, it has improved for the first time to 38 percent favorable, 48 percent unfavorable – a net improvement of 20 points,” he said.
Republicans in particular have warmed to Romney, but independents have also shown a 12-percentage point rise in their approval of the former Massachusetts governor, he added.
The Purple poll was taken among 1,705 likely voters in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.
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