Obama’s Advantage Over Romney: Five Points, NBC/Journal Poll Finds

Photograph by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

President Barack Obama boards Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base on his way to New York City on Sept. 18, 2012 in Maryland.

President Barack Obama leads Republican challenger Mitt Romney even as a majority of voters continues to disapprove of the president’s handling of the economy, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

Obama holds a five-point advantage over Romney, 50 percent to 45 percent, among likely voters in the nationwide survey conducted Sept. 12-16. Obama led Romney by 50 percent to 44 percent among registered voters in the poll released today.

The results reflect the small advantage that Obama has enjoyed in some polls since the Democratic National Convention two weeks ago in Charlotte. Other surveys have shown the race tightening after a post-convention lift for Obama. The Gallup daily tracking poll gives Obama 47 percent support and Romney 46 percent among registered voters in a rolling seven-day average through Sept. 17.

The NBC/Journal poll underscores the small share of voters who say they have yet to make a choice between Obama and Romney before the Nov. 6 election. In the survey, 3 percent said they were “not sure” who they would support, 1 percent answered “depends,” and 1 percent answered “neither/other.”

By 51 percent to 47 percent, registered voters surveyed disapproved rather than approved of Obama’s handling of the economy. Still, that’s the best showing for the president on that question in the survey since May 2010. And the figures represent an improvement from last month, when the poll showed 54 percent disapproving of his record on the economy and 44 percent approving.

On Obama’s overall performance in office, 50 percent of registered voters approved in the latest poll; in August, that figure was 48 percent.

Obama and Romney are tied at 43 percent on the question of who would be better at dealing with the economy. Republican officials say 43 consecutive months of unemployment above 8 percent show that Obama’s policies have failed, while Democrats point to 30 straight months of private-sector job growth as evidence that the president’s programs have helped pull the U.S. out of its worst recession since the Great Depression in the 1930s.

On other questions, 49 percent of registered voters approve of Obama’s handling of foreign policy, down from 54 percent last month. The survey was conducted after Sept. 11 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic mission that led to the deaths of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans in Benghazi.

Poll respondents gave Obama double-digit advantages over Romney on who would be better in dealing with issues of concern to women, looking out for the middle class and handling Medicare.

The survey was conducted before Mother Jones magazine posted excerpts of a leaked video from a May campaign fundraiser at which Romney described 47 percent of Americans as government- dependent “victims” who will vote for Obama “no matter what.” Romney last night told reporters his comments weren’t “elegantly stated,” even as he declined to disavow them. Today, on FOX News, he said he was talking about a close contest with Obama in which half the voters will go one way, half the other.

The poll’s sampling margin of error was plus or minus 3.3 percentage points for 900 registered voters and plus or minus 3.6 percentage points for 736 likely voters.

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