President Obama has increased his lead over Republican Mitt Romney to a comfortable 7 points—despite a large majority of the American public saying that the country is moving in the wrong direction, according to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll.
Registered voters chose Obama over Romney by 49 to 42 percent—a slight increase over the 6-point advantage Obama had in last month’s Reuters poll.
The president’s increase comes as nearly two-thirds of the respondents say the country is moving in the wrong direction, while 31 percent say it is moving in the right direction—the lowest number of respondents with a positive outlook on the country since December 2011. This has to be a worrisome sign for Romney—even as voters are picking up on his campaign theme that Obama has presided over a disastrous economy, a majority of voters are still choosing the president over Romney for the next four years. Perhaps they are swayed more by Obama’s depiction of Romney as out of touch with the needs of middle-class Americans.
“The overall ‘right track, wrong track’ is worse than last month—the news hasn’t been great lately,” Ipsos pollster Chris Jackson said to Reuters. “But Obama seems to be, to some extent, inoculated against some of the worst of that.”
Even worse for Romney, voters chose Obama over him on the question of who was stronger in dealing with jobs and the economy—46 percent to 44 percent. Since this is the central theme of Romney’s campaign—the main reason he has presented to the public for why they should vote for him—it is not a good sign for his November chances if Obama is beating him on that question. And the poll suggests that Romney is losing ground on that issue because he had the advantage in July on that question.
On tax issues, Obama had a sizable lead, 49 to 38 percent.
Since the poll of 1,168 adults was conducted from August 2 to August 6, as Romney is being hammered on not releasing his tax returns and for his record at Bain Capital, perhaps the negative advertising is having an effect.
“The Democrats’ current strategy of just pummeling Romney on Bain and on the economy has been kind of a kitchen sink thing,” Jackson said. “Even if it’s not necessarily hurt Romney, it’s given him no opportunity to build a lead.”
Jackson said Obama’s new lead on the issue of jobs and the economy is especially significant.
“That is the key issue in this race,” he said. “For Romney to be able to make a convincing argument and to win the election, he’s going to have to have a fairly significant lead over Obama on that measure.”
Jackson estimates that Romney would need to have at least a 5- to 8-point lead over Obama on the jobs and economy issue to win the election.
“There’s certainly no case at the moment that Romney’s building some sort of momentum toward victory here,” Jackson said.