Undisputed Republican primary front-runner Mitt Romney has made significant gains against in the polls against US President Barack Obama, but trails with woman and minorities.
According to a Quinnipiac University national poll released Thursday, Obama‘s popularity with women and minorities contributes to his 46%-42% lead over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney,
Romney’s difficulty in making a personal connection with voters persists, according to the poll, but the likely Republican presidential nominee is virtually tied with the president on Americans’ ability to view him as a leader.
Asked about each candidate’s personal characteristics, 81% find the president likable, compared with 63% who say the same about Romney.
More voters, 57%, say Obama cares about their needs and problems, compared with only 44% for Romney. However, 61% of those polled say the former Bain Capital chief has “strong leadership qualities,” more than the president’s 60%.
Romney also edges out Obama on his perceived ability to deal with the key issue of America's weak economy, 47%-43%. And, he is seen as better able to succeed on job creation (45%-42%), lowering gas prices (44%-31%) and dealing with immigration (43%-39%).
The president is seen as more capable on women’s issues (52%-32%) and foreign policy (46%-40%). Voters give the two men equal marks on on taxes and health care.
The poll of 2,577 American voters is the latest of several suggesting a close race in November.
However, Obama's overall job approval rating remained below 50% in March – signaling his reelection bid is more problematic than pundits predict.
In the past 40 years, those presidents who have gone on to secure re-election have generally enjoyed job approval ratings over 50% in March of their re-election years.
This was true of Bill Clinton (1996), Ronald Reagan (1984), and Richard Nixon (1972). Conversely, the ratings of Gerald Ford (1976), Jimmy Carter (1980), and George H.W. Bush (1992) were all well below 50% at the same point in the electoral cycle and all went on to defeats later the same year.
The only (partial) exception to this trend is George W. Bush in 2004 who went on from average approval ratings of just below or around 50% in March to win a close re-election contest in November.
Romney's choice of vice presidential running mates following the GOP convention in August will be key to his ability to challenge Obama in his demographic strongholds - with women and minorities.
The choice remains a guessing game, with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Wisconsin U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan seen as leading contenders.