A little over a month ahead of US elections,
Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney is still struggling to
improve his personal image with voters, a major Washington-based
pollster said Thursday.
The most recent poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press measured a number of traits and issues, and they show incumbent Barack Obama ahead of his Republican challenger Romney in almost every area.
In likeability, however, Obama leads by a substantial margin, officials at the Pew center said in a review of its poll of 3,019 adults, including 2,424 registered voters, across the country September 12-16.
To the question "which candidate connects well with ordinary Americans," 66 per cent said Obama, while 23 per cent said Romney.
"This is a pretty good showing for Obama," said Andrew Kohut, president of the research centre. As for Romney, "his personal image is his weak point," Kohut told foreign journalists. "He is not seen as a man of the people."
The poll also showed that both candidates increased their favorability rating after their respective conventions. Obama's went from 50 to 55 per cent, while Romney's increased from 37 to 45 per cent. Kohut said, however, this was also a poor showing for Romney because even though favourability was up, his unfavourability rating was 50 per cent.
"No candidate has ever won the presidency with an on balance negative personal image rating," Kohut said.
The reason for his low ratings in likeability and favourability was not Romney's Mormon faith, Kohut said. It had more to do with a perception that the multimillionaire and one-time private equity investor is an "elitist," which has caused his support among people with moderate or low incomes to suffer.
When poll participants were asked about issues such as health care, abortion and foreign policy, Obama was ahead on all but one - reducing the federal budget deficit. Forty-six per cent said Romney would do the best job on that issue, while 43 per cent said Obama would do better.
The results showed Obama with an 8-point lead -- 51 per cent to 43 per cent -- on the overall question of who the participants would vote for if the election were held now.
Romney could still turn things around by making a good showing in the debates, the first of which is scheduled for Wednesday.
Kohut noted that the most important things to voters in this election are the economy and jobs, according to the poll. Many swing voters, who are defined as people who are undecided or only leaning toward a candidate, believed Romney rather than Obama would do best on creating jobs and reducing the budget deficit.
About 22 per cent of those polled fit the swing voter definition. Forty-four per cent of them said Romney would do a better job improving the job situation, while 27 per cent said Obama would do better. On reducing the federal deficit, 46 per cent said Romney would do better, while 19 per cent said Obama would do better.
Romney has "got to achieve a lot" in the debates in order to have a chance to win the race, said Kohut. He noted that the debates have often changed poll numbers drastically, a boost that Romney will be looking for before the November 6 vote.
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