President Barack Obama continues to hold a wide lead over Mitt Romney on likability but the GOP challenger edges him on the economy. Obama leads Romney 54 to 31 percent on likability and Romney leads Obama on handling the economy 52 to 43 percent, a new USA Today/Gallup poll
On six other personal characteristics including caring about people, being honest and trustworthy, standing up to special interests, being a strong and decisive leader, working with both parties, and ability to manage the government, Obama leads Romney on all.
“Obama has double-digit leads on four of the dimensions, including likability, cares about the needs of people like you, honesty, and ‘would stand up to special interests,’" Gallup wrote. “Obama's lead is smaller in terms of being perceived as a strong and decisive leader, working well with both parties, and the aforementioned dimension of being able to manage the government effectively.”
On seven other areas tested, Obama lead Romney on all but handling the economy and the deficit. The other issues were foreign affairs, energy, Medicare, taxes, and healthcare.
“Romney beats Obama on two economic issues, the federal budget deficit and the economy, while Obama wins by at least nine points on each of the other five — including 12- to 14-point advantages on foreign affairs, energy, and Medicare,” Gallup wrote.
“Gallup tested five of these issue dimensions in July, and since then Obama has gained significantly in his positioning versus Romney on taxes and on healthcare. Romney had a four-point advantage over Obama on taxes in July; now Obama is preferred on that dimension by nine points. Similarly, Obama has moved from a tie on healthcare in July to his current nine-point advantage.”
Gallup noted that Romney’s strength on economic issues had not changed since July and added that it is not clear why Obama has moved ahead on taxes and healthcare but “it is possible that Obama's continuing criticisms of Romney's proposed tax plans have seeped into the public's consciousness and affected its views of Romney on this issue. The Supreme Court decision affirming Obama's Affordable Care Act was released before the July survey, so it would not have affected the trends on healthcare.”
Gallup noted that while Romney’s vice-presidential nominee, Rep. Paul Ryan, is known for his work on the budget and the deficit and Medicare, polling shows Obama gaining on Romney on the issue of the budget deficit and holding a clear 13-point lead on Medicare.
“Overall, these data provide an illuminating insight into the structure of the presidential contest. President Obama's greatest vulnerability appears to be the economy — not surprising, given that unemployment is still above 8 percent and given the low level of Americans’ confidence in the economy,” Gallup wrote. “At the same time, Obama has great strengths in Americans' positive views of his personal image and characteristics, and of his position on several non-economic issues.
“At this point, it appears that the two candidates' contrasting strengths have essentially canceled themselves out, given that Obama and Romney are exactly tied in Gallup Daily tracking. However, both candidates will have the opportunity to address their weaknesses and bolster their strengths in the forthcoming conventions.”
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