June 21 (Bloomberg) -- Republican Mitt Romney has closed in on President Barack Obama as Americans are more confident in the former Massachusetts governor’s ability to improve the economy, a Pew Research Center poll shows.
While Obama still leads Romney 50 percent to 46 percent among registered voters in the Pew poll released today, the margin narrowed from the seven percentage point advantage Obama had in the organization’s May survey.
Romney led Obama, 49 percent to 41 percent, when voters were asked who would do the best job on the economy. The survey also found more pessimism about the country’s economic future as 34 percent of respondents said they expect the economy to improve over the next year -- down 10 points from a March poll.
The Pew survey found declining enthusiasm for Obama among younger voters compared with 2008, and more engagement in the race among Republicans than Democrats. Still, Democrats reported more enthusiasm for Obama than Republicans did for Romney, according to Pew.
“Overall, it’s a tight race and Romney’s big advantage at this point is his lead on improving economic conditions,” said Carroll Doherty, associate director of the Pew poll.
Obama leads Romney on measures of personal qualities, with 50 percent of voters holding a favorable view of the president and 48 percent unfavorable. Voters gave Romney a more unfavorable than favorable view, 47 percent to 41 percent. No candidate in the past two decades has been viewed more unfavorably than favorably at this point in the election cycle, according to Pew’s surveys.
Fifty-nine percent of those surveyed said Obama “connects with ordinary Americans,” compared with 28 percent who said that about Romney. Half of Americans said Obama has “good judgment in a crisis,” while 37 percent said that of Romney.
For Romney, “this is something that’s a real challenge for him going forward -- judgment in a crisis, ability to connect well,” Doherty said. “Even his own supporters are dubious about his abilities on some of these traits.”
One advantage for Romney may be that Republicans say they are paying closer attention to the election, according to Pew, with 73 percent reporting they are giving “quite a lot of thought” to the vote, compared with 66 percent of Democrats. In 2008, Democrats led on that measure.
The Pew survey of 2,013 adults, including 1,563 registered voters, was conducted June 7-17. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points for the total sample and 2.9 percentage points for the sample of registered voters.
Recent polls indicate a close and still unsettled presidential race less than five months before the election. The average of nine recent national polls by the Real Clear Politics website shows Obama leading Romney by 2.1 percentage points, with results ranging from a 13-point Obama lead in a June 15-18 Bloomberg National Poll to a four-point Romney lead in a Rasmussen Reports daily tracking poll released today.
To contact the reporter on this story: Margaret Talev in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at email@example.com