President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are deadlocked in a poll released Tuesday, but the presumptive Republican nominee continues to struggle to energize his supporters.
The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll shows Obama and Romney tied at 47 percent among registered voters nationwide. While Obama maintains strong personal favorability, his job performance in various areas remains a major political liability. On the economy, 54 percent disapprove of Obama’s job performance, while 44 percent approve. Forty-one percent approve of his handling of health care, compared with 52 percent who disapprove.
But it’s the president’s negative approval rating, 38-52 percent, on immigration that is perhaps most surprising. That means Obama received no bump on the issue since his directive last month to halt the deportation of of some illegal immigrants who arrived in the United States as minors. The president’s overall job rating is slightly negative, 47-49 percent.
Romney, however, is unable to parlay that voter dissatisfaction into momentum behind his own candidacy. Indeed, a whopping 59 percent of Romney’s supporters say they are primarily opposed to Obama, while only 37 percent are mainly for the former Massachusetts governor. Conversely, 75 percent of Obama’s supporters are primarily for him, rather than opposed to Romney. Those numbers call to mind remarks made by House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), who told an attendee at a recent fundraiser that Americans “probably aren’t going to fall in love with Mitt Romney” but instead will be voting either “for or against Barack Obama.”
The president is also the beneficiary of a much more spirited base: 51 percent of Obama’s are described as “very enthusiastic,” compared with 38 percent of Romney’s supporters. And Americans appear to be pegging Obama as a strong favorite as well: 58 percent say they expect him to defeat Romney and claim a second term. In a contest that appears to be dead even, the outcome may well hinge on which candidate’s supporters show up at the polls. To that end, Obama’s enthusiasm edge could prove decisive.
The PollTracker Average currently shows the two candidates virtually tied.
The ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone July 5-8 with a sample of 1,003 American adults. It has a margin of error of 4 percent for the full sample.
Tom Kludt is a newswriter for TPM. A former research intern and polling fellow for TPM, he lives and works in New York City. Tom graduated summa cum laude from the University of South Dakota in May of 2010 with a B.A. in Political Science and History. He can be reached at Tom (at) talkingpointsmemo.com.