Obama and Romney Tied Among Likely Voters

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Sept. 11 2012 10:42 AM

Obama Opens Up Six-Point Lead but Remains Tied With Romney Among Likely Voters

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By a wide margin, voters would rather have President Obama over for dinner than Mitt Romney

Photo by Pete Marovich-Pool/Getty Images

There is no question now that President Obama made some important gains at the Democratic National Convention last week, and is now beating out Mitt Romney 50 percent to 44 percent, his best position since spring, according to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll. Yet among likely voters, people who say they’re both registered and certain to cast a ballot, the race remains a dead heat, with Obama up by a statistically insignificant one point, 49 percent to 48 percent, remaining pretty much unchanged since before the conventions. In what is likely a sign that democrats managed to get their own excited during the convention, support for Obama among Democrats has soared, to 91 percent, with only 5 percent saying they’d vote for Romney.

Despite the seemingly tight race, Obama holds clear advantages on several issues, not only relating directly to policy but also the critical likeability factor. When Americans are forced to choose who they’d rather hang out with, there seems to be little contest. By a 14-point margin, registered voters think Obama would be a more loyal friend than Romney, 50-36 percent. And it seems they see the president as more interesting as well. Fifty-two percent would rather have Obama at their dinner table, compared to 33 percent who would prefer it if Romney paid them a visit, reports ABC News.

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In more bad news for Romney, a Reuters/Ipsos poll of people with a household income of under $55,000 a year in11 southern states shows that while the Republican holds a clear lead among non-Hispanic whites in the area, 46 percent to 29 percent, it might not be enough to offset Obama’s expected landslide among Hispanics and blacks.

Across the Bible Belt, voters seem troubled by Romney’s wealth and his religion. Thirty-eight percent of voters in the region say they would be less likely to vote for someone who is very wealthy, and 35 percent say they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who is Mormon. That could help explain some of the apparent lack of enthusiasm. Among low- and middle-income white Bible Belt voters, 21 percent said they are uncertain they will vote in November, reports Reuters.

As if getting another reminder that people don’t seem to like him very much wasn’t bad enough, perhaps most distressing for Romney is that he hasn’t been able to hold on to his previous leads on dealing with the economy and handling the deficit. And that’s even though 53 percent disapprove of how Obama has handled the economy, points out the Washington Post. The president’s most general job-performance rating remains unchanged with 48 percent approving and 50 percent disapproving. As ABC points out, that brings back the harsh reality that no incumbent with an approval rating below 50 percent in September of an election year has managed to win re-election

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.