A new ABC News / Washington Post poll suggests that President Obama’s re-election chances are improving as Mitt Romney begins to pull away in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.
According to the poll, Obama leads Romney head to head by a 51 to 45 percent margin, marking the first time that the President has cracked 50 percent among registered voters. The poll also shows that Obama’s approval rating stands at 50 percent — the highest that its been since the spring — and 50 percent of voters now believe that the President deserves to be re-elected. That is higher than the percentage of voters who believed that Bill Clinton deserved a second term at the beginning of his successful re-election campaign.
The poll contains some troubling numbers for Romney. Although Romney has opened up a 39-23 percent lead over Newt Gingrich, his primary rival for the nomination, 52 percent of respondents to the poll said that the more they hear about Romney, the less they like him.
Additionally, Obama is trouncing Romney on his signature issue: handling the economy. Respondents said that they think Obama understands the economic problems people are having better than Romney does by a whopping 53-36 percent margin. Obama also leads Romney 55-37 in trust to better protect the interests of the middle class, and 52-42 in trust to handle taxes.
That last number may have to do with lingering concerns over Romney’s tax returns. The poll shows that 66 percent believe Romney does not pay his fair share in taxes, compared to just 30 percent who believe that his 14 percent income tax rate is sufficient.