Obama, 50, holds advantages over Romney, 65, on personal attributes, even as the incumbent remains vulnerable among Americans concerned that the economic recovery is taking too long.
If a general election were held now, registered voters would divide 51 percent for the president and 44 percent for the former Massachusetts governor.
Obama is boosted by his support among women, a constituency that favors him by 19 percentage points over Romney. Among men, Romney has an 8 percentage point advantage. The two candidates are tied among independent voters, a group that can determine the winner of presidential elections.
General elections are fought on a state-by-state basis, so the national figures offer a general measure of the race and aren’t predictive of the outcome. The poll was taken April 5-8 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points on the full sample.
Health Care Advantage
Obama leads Romney on who would do a better job protecting the middle class, handling international affairs and terrorism, and dealing with health-care policy. The only issue tested where Romney did markedly better was on who would deal more effectively with the federal budget deficit.
On economic issues, a potential match-up between the two men is more competitive, with Obama holding a 3 percentage point advantage on who is best to create jobs and Romney holding a 4- point edge on who is best to handle the economy.
The poll shows Americans are split on the question of whether the economy is improving. Almost two-thirds said the country is headed in the wrong direction and one-third said rising gas prices have caused them “serious” hardship.
Obama will speak today in Florida at fundraising events as well as give an address on the “Buffett rule,” a proposal named after billionaire investor Warren Buffett that would boost tax rates paid by households with incomes between $1 million and $2 million, phasing them up to a 30 percent minimum tax rate for those making more than $2 million a year. Romney is scheduled to campaign later today in Delaware and Pennsylvania, where Republican primaries will be held April 24.
-- Editors: Jeanne Cummings, Robin Meszoly
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jeanne Cummings at email@example.com