Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Pew: Obama Pulls Ahead with Strong Support

With an eight-point lead over Mitt Romney among likely voters, Barack Obama holds a bigger September lead than the last three candidates who went on to win in November, including Obama four years ago.Not only does Obama enjoy a substantial lead in the horserace, he tops Romney on a number of key dimensions.

His support is stronger than his rival’s, and is positive rather than negative. Mitt Romney’s backers are more ardent than they were pre-convention, but are still not as enthusiastic as Obama’s.

In elections since 1988, only Bill Clinton, in 1992 and 1996, entered the fall with a larger advantage.

Roughly half of Romney’s supporters say they are voting against Obama rather than for the Republican nominee. With the exception of Bill Clinton in 1992, candidates lacking mostly positive backing have lost in November.
The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted September 12-16, 2012 among 3,019 adults including 2,424 registered voters, finds that Obama continues to be the more likable candidate by a substantial margin; his favorability rating has risen to 55% from 50% in late July, with 42% now expressing an unfavorable view of him.

Romney’s favorability also has risen, from 37% in July to 45% currently. But more (50%) continue to view Romney unfavorably. No previous presidential candidate has been viewed more unfavorably than favorably at this point in a presidential campaign in Pew Research or Gallup September surveys going back to 1988.

Romney has gained no ground on Obama in being seen as more credible or more empathetic, and Obama now leads Romney by nearly three-to-one (66% to 23%) as the candidate who connects well with ordinary Americans – an even wider margin than in June.

With the exception of jobs and the deficit, on which voter opinion is about evenly divided, Obama leads Romney on most key issues, notably healthcare, Medicare, and abortion.

 Obama also has a number of other advantages over his challenger. As has been the case for much of the past year, the Democratic Party is better regarded than the GOP by a significant margin; currently, 53% of voters view the Democratic Party favorably while 46% have a favorable opinion of the GOP.

The new survey, which began a week after the Democratic convention ended, finds that Democratic engagement in the 2012 election has spiked, and the engagement gap evident earlier in the campaign has largely disappeared. Democratic voters are now as likely as Republicans to say they have given quite a lot of thought to the election and are following campaign news as closely. Democratic voters also are as committed to voting, and as certain of their vote, as are their GOP counterparts.

Consequently, Obama’s overall advantage – he leads 51% to 42% among registered voters – does not narrow significantly when looking only at those most likely to vote. Among 2,192 likely voters, Obama leads Romney, 51% to 43%.

Overall interest in the 2012 election is not as high as it was at this point in the 2008 campaign, with a similar decline among both Democrats and Republicans. But the dropoff in engagement is most noticeable among younger Americans. Just 48% of voters younger than 30 have given a lot of thought to the 2012 election, down from 65% at this point four years ago. The share of young people who say they are closely following election news is down by about half (from 35% to 18%).

By contrast, there has been no falloff in engagement among African American voters. Engagement among black voters, which was higher in September 2008 than in previous elections dating to 1992, remains just as high going into the final weeks of the 2012 campaign.

Read the full survey report @ Pew Research Center for the People & the Press

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