A new ABC/Washington Post poll shows a close race, with Barack Obama leading nationally against Mitt Romney, 49%-47%, among likely voters.
That jumps to a 49%-44% Obama advantage among registered voters.
There are a host of interesting internals, so check them out, but one thing to keep in mind is that the internals are all based on registered voters; not likely voters. So on questions like whom do you prefer on the deficit you're reading answers from the registered voter sample; not from the likely voter sample.
A couple things stand out, though.
a. Obama's job approval sits at 49% and approval of his handling of the economy is at 47%. Both numbers are below 50%.
b. The good news for Obama is that he's, once again, even with Romney on who'd do a better job handling the economy. My theory has always been that this number will mirror overall preference the closer we get to the election. Since the economy dominates voters' concerns, it makes sense that voters would pick the candidate they most trust on the economy.
Having said that, there's a chicken-egg problem. Are voters picking the candidate they trust more on the economy, or do they trust the candidate on the economy because they're already supporting that candidate?
c. Obama leads big on terrorism, women's issues, social issues, and handling a crisis. Problem for him? Those aren't exactly front-and-center in voters' minds.
It's a much closer race on the bigger concerns -- the deficit (Romney +2%), economy (tied), health care (Obama +4%), Medicare (Obama +4%), taxes (Obama +5%), and international affairs (+5%).
d. There are a bunch of fun questions about whom you'd prefer to see on Dancing with the Stars and whom you'd prefer to go with on a camping trip.
Not surprisingly, Obama dominates on the fun questions that tap into likability.
Meanwhile, the president and Romney are tied on whom you'd prefer to have babysit your kids, 41%-41%.
That measures perceptions of competence, and so Romney's parity with Obama isn't surprising.
e. Finally, here are the turnout numbers.
Among Obama’s supporters in this survey, 51 percent describe themselves as very enthusiastic about their choice – notably fewer than its level at this time four years ago, 61 percent. Indeed Romney has closed the enthusiasm gap from early September; then he trailed Obama by 10 points in very enthusiastic supporters. Today it’s an insignificant 3 points.
Romney also has ramped up his get-out-the vote efforts. In late August, 31 percent of Obama’s supporters said they’d been contacted by his campaign, while just 18 percent of Romney’s backers said they’d heard from their candidate. Today Obama’s outreach number is essentially the same, while Romney’s has advanced, virtually to parity: Twenty-six percent of his supporters now say they’ve heard from him.
Among the particular challenges for Obama are young voters: A mainstay of his support in 2008, they’re far less likely now to say they’re certain to turn out.
Full poll pdf here.
[Photo: Public Domain: Pete Souza]