-- If President Barack Obama wins a second term, he may have to thank all the single ladies: A new poll out Wednesday shows Obama crushing Mitt Romney among unmarried women by a lopsided 60%-31% margin. Overall, though, the Quinnipiac University survey found the incumbent barely edges out the Republican standard-bearer 46%-43%.
Romney enjoys what Quinnipiac called a "yawning marriage gap" — he clobbers Obama among voters who put a ring on it by 51%-38%. The Democrat beats his rival 54%-34% overall among the unmarried.
In 2008, Republican Senator John McCain beat Obama 52%-47% among married voters, according to exit polls, while the Democrat thumped him 65%-33% among unmarried people. That suggests that Obama has lost ground among married voters and unmarried voters alike. A drop would hardly be a surprise: Americans are unhappy about the sour economy three and a half years after the president took office vowing to fix it.
The Quinnipiac survey found Romney up 54%-35% among married men and 49%-42% among married women. Obama led 47%-38% among single men and 60%-31% among single women. Among the other findings, the poll showed Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts scoring better than Obama on job approval/disapproval — 46%-34% for Roberts, and 45%-49% for Obama.
Quinnipiac University Polling Institute assistant director Peter Brown said in a statement about the poll that while the gender gap grabs headlines, "the marriage gap is actually larger and more telling."
"The marriage gap may be related to the different priorities and economic situations of married and single people," said Brown. "Married people are more likely to be older, more financially secure and more socially conservative than unmarried voters. The married column includes more Republicans and more white voters."
"Married voters are more likely to focus on the economy and health care, while single voters are more focused on issues such as gay rights and reproductive issues," Brown said.
The survey found that voters disapprove of Obama's handling of the economy, by a 55%-40% margin. But they don't seem particularly enthused about their choices in November, dividing 45%-46% on whether Obama or Romney would do a better job.
The poll queried 2,722 registered voters the first week of July. It had an error margin of plus or minus 1.9 percentage points.