President Barack Obama and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney remain locked in a tight contest, with each candidate displaying significant strengths and weaknesses four months before Election Day, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.
For Obama, he runs stronger than Romney does in the key swing states, and he holds a strong base of support among young voters, African Americans and Latinos. What’s more, the president continues to be personally popular.
But in the past month, the public has grown more pessimistic about the state of the U.S. economy and the country’s direction. And two key parts of Obama’s base – young voters and Latinos – aren’t as enthusiastic about the election as they were four years ago.
For Romney, key Republican groups – including the Tea Party – have begun to rally around the former Massachusetts governor, and he has the opportunity to capitalize on the attitudes about the economy and nation’s trajectory.
Read the full poll results here (.pdf)
Yet he largely remains a largely undefined figure, and his favorable-unfavorable rating is still a net-negative.
“If the election is a referendum on health care or the economy, the odds work to Romney’s favor,” says Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart, who conducted this survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff. “Obama is the odds-on favorite if it’s a referendum on the personal aspects.”
Stable numbers after another unstable month
After another eventful month in American politics – the disappointing May jobs numbers, the unsuccessful gubernatorial recall in Wisconsin, the economic uncertainty in Europe and Obama’s recent immigration announcement – the Obama vs. Romney race is essentially unchanged.
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In the poll, the president leads his presumptive challenger by three points among registered voters, 47 to 44 percent, which is within the survey’s margin of error.
Last month, Obama’s edge over Romney was four points, 47 to 43 percent.
Also in the current poll, the president’s overall approval rating stands at 47 percent (down a point from May), and his favorable-unfavorable score is 48 to 38 percent (which is essentially unchanged).
“It looks like a dead heat on a merry-go-round,” Hart adds. “The position of the two horses has not changed.”
Obama is ahead among African Americans (92 to 1 percent), women (52 to 39 percent), Latinos, voters ages 18-29 (52 to 35 percent) and independents (40 to 36 percent).
Romney leads among Tea Party supporters (94 to 1 percent), whites (53 to 38 percent) and men (48 to 43 percent).
And the two are running even among seniors, Midwest residents and high-interest voters.