The top-line results in the new Washington Post/ABC News poll suggest the conventional wisdom is largely correct: President Obama leads Mitt Romney by seven points, 51% to 44%, and Americans are feeling slightly better about Obama, the economy, and the nation's direction.
But there are some other tidbits that jump out if one digs through the numbers a bit more. For example, it's clear that the Republican "war on women" is having a major impact on 2012 attitudes -- as women sour on the GOP, Obama now leads Romney by a whopping 19 points among female voters.
Just as interesting were the results on the candidates' personal qualities.
Obama has double-digit leads over the likely Republican presidential nominee on who would do a better job of protecting the middle class, addressing women's issues, handling international affairs and dealing with health care.On personal traits, the president's edge is even bigger: He has a better than 2-to-1 advantage as the more friendly and likable of the two, and nearly that margin as "more inspiring."
As I'm inclined to do, I put together a chart on this, using the Post/ABC data.
Note that Obama leads Romney in every category, but leads by nearly 40 points when respondents were asked which of the candidates "seems like the more friendly and likable person."
At a certain level, this may seem irrelevant -- presidential races aren't personality contests. Except, a lot of the time, like it or not, they are personality contests.
Think about how many times you've heard about which candidate voters would prefer "to have a beer with."
Especially in the television era, the candidate who's better liked is generally better positioned to win, and at least at this point, voters' perceptions of Romney just aren't favorable at all. After nearly six years on the national campaign trail, Americans don't seem to like the guy.
Making matters worse, this isn't an easy problem to fix.
Also of interest, respondents were asked, "What do you think is the bigger problem in this country: unfairness in the economic system that favors the wealthy, or over-regulation of the free market that interferes with growth and prosperity? A 52% majority pointed to unfairness in the system, suggesting American Crossroads' focus groups, which we talked about yesterday, are right -- Obama's larger economic message is resonating.