Mitt Romney is now seen as the candidate of “hope and change” in Washington according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC poll.
President Barack Obama ran on that slogan in 2008, but voters now believe overwhelmingly that if change is to come to Washington it has to come with a new president.
Romney is also seen as the better man to lead the country on improving the economy, but Obama still holds a six point overall lead — by 49 to 43 points. That figure is virtually unchanged from the organizations’ last poll in early March, which had Obama up by 50 to 44 points.
The effect of the poll — combined with new daily tracking polls from Gallup, which has Romney up by 48 to 43 points, and Rasmussen Reports, where Romney leads by 46 to 45 points — means the RealClearPolitics poll of polls now gives the president a 2.7 percentage point lead in the race for the White House.
The WSJ/NBC poll was conducted by Democratic pollster Peter Hart and Republican Bill McInturff. Hart said it shows the race is still wide open.
“Barack Obama was an underdog 200 days ago,” Hart said. “I think today you have to say he has worked his way back up to a 50/50 chance, but no better than that.”
“We have two campaigns with major challenges to correct in order to persuade voters that they are the right candidate to lead the country,” he said.
The pollsters asked 13 questions on whether Romney or Obama would be better. Obama won 11 and Romney two — but they were the important ones.
When asked who would change business as usual in Washington, the GOP candidate topped the president by 36 to 29 points, and when asked which had the better ideas for improving the economy, he won by 40 to 34 points.
By contrast, Obama won on issues such as “being easygoing and likeable”— by 54 to 18 points — “being compassionate enough to understand average people” and “being honest and straightforward.”
McInturff said the survey shows Romney could have a problem transitioning from the primary battle — where he had to show how conservative he was to beat a host of rivals generally seen as being to his right — to the election where he has to pick up voters in the center.
“Romney's themes play much more strongly among his ideological base and don’t play so well among the wider electorate,” the Republican pollster said. “You are seeing the president grabbing hold of a national zeitgeist and reflecting it back in the campaign.”
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