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New Poll Gives Romney Edge Over Obama on the Economy

A new USA Today/Gallup poll shows that a majority of those polled believe Mitt Romney’s business background would lead him to make good decisions about the economy.

The poll found that a majority of Americans think President Obama is more likable than Romney and better understands the problems Americans face in their everyday lives.

By a margin of 63 percent to 29 percent, the 1,030 adults surveyed say Romney’s background in business—including his time running the private equity firm Bain Capital—would cause him to make good decisions, not bad ones, in dealing with the nation’s economic problems over the next four years.

This is good news for Romney, as the survey comes in the midst of Romney’s business record and personal taxes remaining a central issue in the campaign for weeks. But the survey results do seem to contradict a poll that was done by NBC News/Wall Street Journal earlier this month that revealed voters in battleground states like Ohio and Pennsylvania, who are exposed to a steady diet of negative campaign commercials about Romney’s business background, were more likely to have a negative view of Romney’s business record than voters in other states.

So while some commentators say the recent Gallup poll calls into question the effectiveness of the Obama campaign strategy to go after Romney’s business record, the Obama campaign can reach for comfort to a poll three weeks ago saying the strategy is effective. What the contradictions point out is the danger for either side in believing too devoutly in the truth of the poll numbers.

The USA Today/Gallup poll had some good stuff for both campaigns to feast on. By a 2-1 margin, voters say Obama is more likable than Romney, by double digits they say he understands the problem Americans face in their daily lives and by 8 points they say he’s more honest and trustworthy.

On the Romney said, a majority give him the edge when it comes to being able to “get things done,” by a margin of 51 to 33 Republicans report being more enthusiastic than usual about voting, and 61 percent agree that the government is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses—a point of view that is definitely more consistent with Romney’s view of the world and the highest amount of skepticism about government expressed since Gallup started asking that question 20 years ago.

“You’ve got to give the voters credit — economic reality trumps campaign rhetoric,” Romney pollster Neil Newhouse says. “It’s pretty clear that the negative weight of the economy is having more impact on voters than President Obama’s campaign ads distorting Gov. Romney’s record.”

But a spokesman for the Obama campaign, Ben LaBolt, pointed out that a number of recent polls have indicated that the Obama commercials attacking Romney’s tenure at Bain have been working, hurting Romney’s credibility on the economy.

“While Mitt Romney has claimed for the past year that he knows how to create jobs because he did it as a corporate buyout specialist, Americans are just now learning about his real record — that he profited off of bankrupting companies and outsourcing jobs,” LaBolt says. “That’s not an economic philosophy they want to see in the Oval Office, and the more they are learning about his record, the less supportive they are.”



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