Politics and Public Opinion

Six months out

How do Barack Obama and Mitt Romney measure up as the next phase of the 2012 campaign begins? The May issue of AEI’s Political Report surveys the surveys on the presidential candidates, sizing them up on policy and personality. The editors find the contenders evenly matched on handling the country’s top issue, the economy. Views about the economy are still fragile, with around seven in ten in most polls saying the country is in a recession. More than two-thirds know someone who has lost a job in the past six months and people don’t feel better off than they were four years ago. At the same time, pluralities in an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll were not confident either man would make much difference on the economy. In other policy areas, Barack Obama leads Mitt Romney on handling foreign policy and taxes, two traditional GOP strengths. Romney is strong where President Obama is especially weak, on handling gas prices and energy policy. On likeability, Romney has a distance to go to match Obama, but Romney scores well on questions that ask about leadership qualities.


At this early stage, Michelle Obama is a great asset, better known and more popular than Ann Romney. Vice President Biden’s ratings trail those of the president. There also seems to be support for each candidate’s messages of opportunity and fairness.


The report also examines new polls on the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street, how important women’s health issues will be in the campaign, and how people view their pets.

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