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Monday, December 5, 2016

According to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is in a tenuous position as he enters the general election. He trails President Barack Obama by 8 percentage points, and he also trails on many key issues. It appears that after nearly a full year of campaigning, Romney’s message is still not resonating with voters.

President Obama leads Romney in the poll by an overall margin of 51 to 43 percent. The president’s lead is largely owed to the strong support of women, among whom Obama leads Romney by 19 points. That massive number suggests that Romney has been badly hurt by his tepid response to Rush Limbaugh’s misogynist rant and by his promise to “get rid of” Planned Parenthood.

Perhaps more troubling for Romney is the fact that voters don’t seem to be buying into three of his key talking points.

Obama leads Romney by a 48 to 38 percent margin on the question “which candidate to you trust to do a better job dealing with health care policy.” These numbers counter the popular consensus that health care reform is a political weakness for Obama. They also suggest that voters have not bought into Romney’s repeated vow to “repeal and replace ‘Obamacare.'” If the Supreme Court does overturn the Affordable Care Act, Romney may not be in a strong position to take advantage politically.

Similarly, despite Romney’s repeated (and false) claims that the president has gone around the world apologizing for America, Obama is dominating Romney on foreign affairs. On the question “which candidate do you trust to do a better job handling international affairs,” Obama leads Romney by a 17 point margin, 53 to 36 percent.

Romney’s latest talking point — that President Obama is “out of touch” — also appears to be falling flat. Obama leads Romney by 12 points on the question “who do you think better understands the economic problems people in this country are having,” and he leads Romney by an overwhelming 64 to 26 percent margin on the question “who do you think seems like the more friendly and likeable person.”

The poll does contain some good news for Romney; he is nearly even with the president on almost all questions regarding the economy, and he holds a double-digit lead on the question of who would better handle the federal budget deficit. Still, the results suggest that Romney will have to change many aspects of his message to compete in November — something that could be dangerous for a candidate who only 36 percent believe is consistent in his positions.

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