Romney tied with Obama in new poll, but likability is an issue

ByABC News
April 18, 2012, 11:16 AM

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Yet another new poll has Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama in a dead heat heading into the November election.

A CBS News/New York Times poll released Wednesday found  Romney and Obama tied at 46 percent support apiece among registered voters. the margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

This comes on the heels of a Pew Research Center poll released Tuesday that found Obama narrowly leading Romney, 49 percent to 45 percent—a major shift from last month when the president held a 12-point advantage over the former Massachusetts governor. (The margin of error for the Pew poll was plus or minus 2.1 percentage points.)

But the latest series of polls come with warning signs for Romney. Although he's competitive with Obama, many polls also show that voters don't like the ex-governor very much.

A Washington Post/ABC News poll released earlier this week found that 47 percent of those polled said they have an unfavorable opinion of Romney, compared to 35 percent who view him favorably. By comparison, Obama was viewed favorably by 56 percent of those polled and unfavorably by 40 percent. (Margin of error: plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.)

According to the Post, Romney's ratings make him the least popular party nominee since 1984, when polling data on the subject was first available.

A CNN/ORC International poll released Monday showed similar results. Voters were virtually split on Romney: 44 percent of those polled viewed him favorably, compared to 43 percent who had an unfavorable view. Meanwhile, 56 percent had a favorable view of Obama, compared to 42 percent unfavorable. (Margin of error: plus or minus 3 percentage points.)

In another important measure, the CNN poll questioned voters about whether they think the candidates are "likable." Fifty-six percent said Obama is likable, compared to just 27 percent who said the same about Romney.

The Romney campaign insists it is not concerned about the favorability gap the candidate has with the president, arguing Romney's low scores are the result of a contentious Republican primary marked by mudslinging between the candidates.

Campaign advisers argue that Romney will have plenty of time to make up ground. And indeed, the campaign is positioning itself to play up attributes it believes will serve the candidate well this fall, including placing a heavy emphasis on his relationship with his wife, Ann, and their family.

While aides to the ex-governor acknowledge that popularity will play a role in which candidate voters choose this fall, they say concerns over the economy and jobs will trump whatever personal advantage Obama has over Romney—and on that front, Romney is competitive.

According to the CNN poll, Obama has just a 2 point advantage over Romney when it comes to who voters think "can get the economy moving." Forty-four percent say Obama, compared to 42 percent who say Romney.

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