Wednesday, April 18, 2012

New York Times/CBS News Poll Shows Doubts on Economy Helping Romney

At the New York Times, "Doubts on Economy May Give Romney Opening, Poll Finds":

A rising number of Americans see improvement in the economy, but a persistent wariness about their own financial circumstances is allowing Mitt Romney to persuade voters that he could improve their economic prospects more than President Obama, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

Even as the nation rebounds from the recession, its lingering effects are reflected in the adversities facing families. Nearly two-thirds of people are concerned about paying for their housing, the poll found, and one in five people with mortgages say they are underwater. Four in 10 parents say they have had to alter expectations for the type of college they can afford to send their children. More than one-third of respondents said high gas prices had created serious financial hardships.

The general election match between Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney is opening with evidence that economic conditions are providing ammunition for both candidates. For Mr. Obama, there is a gradually growing perception that the general outlook is turning brighter, and for Mr. Romney, there are those individuals who are still not feeling substantial improvement in their own lives.

The poll found that the two men are locked in a tight race, with each gathering 46 percent of the support. Nearly an equal number of voters say they are as confident in Mr. Romney’s ability to make the right decisions on the economy and to be commander-in-chief as express confidence in Mr. Obama.

With less than seven months before Election Day, a furious scramble is under way by Democrats to define their opponent. Mr. Romney’s bruises in the Republican primary fight are evident — only 29 percent of voters have a favorable view of him — but more than one-third say they have yet to form an opinion, creating a chance for him to introduce himself as a fix-it man who can improve the personal economic circumstances of Americans.

“We need a president who has a business background, and Mitt Romney’s business background is tremendous,” Michael Larson, 55, a salesman and independent voter from Minneapolis, said Wednesday in a follow-up interview. “He has a vision that will bring the country back to economic strength.”
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The opening for Obama is to play the class warfare card, as "A majority of voters say upper-income Americans pay less than their fair share of taxes, while half say capital gains and dividends should be taxed at the same rate as income from work — a disparity highlighted by Mr. Romney’s own effective tax rate of about 15 percent." But then again, not so fast, "Americans are showing gradual signs of optimism: 33 percent say the economy is getting better now, compared with 14 percent who said the same last October. But only 27 percent of voters said Mr. Obama had changed the country for the better, compared with 20 percent who said he had changed it for the worse and 47 percent who said he had not changed it at all."

Either way, it's going to an extremely close election, and perhaps one of the nastiest in history.