Fox News poll: Obama 46, Romney 39

Monday’s NYT poll: Romney by two among women. Today’s Fox News poll: Obama by 22 among women.

Second look at ignoring polls until September?

Among independents, 34 percent back Romney, 29 percent support Obama and more than a third are undecided or say they won’t vote (36 percent). Last month, independents broke for Romney by 46 percent to 33 percent.

The gender gap is alive and well, as women continue to be more likely to back Obama (55 percent to 33 percent), while men are more inclined to support Romney (46 to 37 percent)…

By a 13-percentage-point margin, voters would pick Romney over Obama to manage their personal money (47 percent to 34 percent). The former governor also comes out on top as the better business partner (48 to 39 percent). Voters think Romney would do a better job creating jobs by a slim 2-point margin (43 to 41 percent).

If hiring a life coach, Obama is the preferred choice by a wide margin, 47 percent to 33 percent. In addition, voters prefer Obama to pick the next Supreme Court justice (46 to 38 percent).

If we can frame this election as “job-creating businessman versus life-coach-in-chief,” I’m A-OK with that. The sample here, in case you’re wondering, is 42D/34R/20I. Last months it was 43D/37R/17I, an only slightly narrower gap — and yet in that poll O and Mitt tied at 46. The key to Romney’s downturn, it seems, is his sharp decline among independents, but I have no theory for why that might have happened. What’s doubly strange is that indies still favor Romney on some key metrics. When asked who they trust more to create jobs, they support Romney 45/23 over O; when asked whether they approve of Obama’s job performance generally and on the economy specifically, they split 35/57 and 30/67, respectively. So how is Obama gaining ground overall? It’s the economy, stupid:

Last month his overall job approval was at 45/51 but now it’s at 49/47, presumably on the strength of this spurt of optimism. I’m at a loss to explain that after last month’s crapola jobs report unless low-information voters are watching the unemployment rate drop and ignoring the fine print about why it’s dropping. It’s not because the economy’s engine is starting to rev; it’s because participation in the labor force keeps shrinking. Savor the irony that O might — might — get re-elected because just enough undecideds are impressed by unemployment numbers that are being driven downward by … chronic long-term unemployment.

This data point is good news for Obama too:

Romney’s counting on the “are you better off than you were four years ago?” logic to put him over the top, but as we get closer to the election you’ll see a heavy-handed effort by Team Hopenchange to remind voters that four years ago we were staggering through the financial crisis. According to these numbers, a significant number of voters are already using that as their yardstick for economic improvement. If O can build on that, economic stagnation will be less of a liability for him than thought.

Two bits of good news for Romney, though. First, the Bain attacks from the primaries obviously haven’t hurt him much:

A sustained attack from Team O will move that needle a bit but it’d have to move a lot to make a difference if it’s starting from there. This is also encouraging:

Not only is Romney closing the “likability gap,” Obama’s life-coach stature notwithstanding, but his favorables are actually higher now among indies than Obama’s are. For O, independents split 39/49; for Mitt, they split 42/42. That too will change as the campaign turns nasty but it’s a relief to start at even instead of deep underwater, as Romney’s favorables were during the primaries. Finally, one last potentially significant data point: When respondents were asked whether Romney would have ordered the Bin Laden raid, 62 percent said yes versus just 24 percent who said no. Among indies, it was 70/16. O’s big counterterrorism talking point isn’t so big after all.

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David Strom 6:01 PM on February 01, 2023