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If election held today, poll finds, Obama would win 51-44

It would be silly to make much of a poll taken in April about an election seven months away, but the Wash Post/ABC poll found that if the election were held today, voters would prefer President Obama by 51-44 percent over Mitt Romney and by 52-42 over Rick Santorum.

The poll is mostly filled with good news for Obama supporters but one that didn’t mention either candidate might be the biggest. It went like this:

“What do you think is the bigger problem in this country: unfairness in the economy that favors the wealthy or over-regulation of the free market that interferes with growth and prosperity?” By a sold 52-37, respondents chose the “unfairness that favors the wealthy” answer. It that holds up, Mitt Romney will have the wind in his face all year.

On a combination of personal attributes and issue positions, Obama was the voters’ preference by 10 percentage points or more on all of the following: seems more friendly and likeable; is more inspiring; addressing women’s issues; handling international affairs; protecting the middle class; understanding people’s economic problems; dealing with health care; is more consistent in his positions.

Romney had a 10-plus lead on just one of those questions: handling the federal budget deficit.

There was another batch of attributes and positions on which neither candidate led by 10 or more, but Obama led by single digits on: supporting small businesses; creating jobs; being a strong leader; social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage; and has a clear vision for the future.

Romney led by less than 10 on two questions: handling the economy and energy policy.

It’s a little strange that the plurality prefers Romoney on “handling the economy” and Obama on “creating jobs.” But the gap was within the margin of error for both.

It seems necessary to note that Romney is just emerging from a bruising intra-party campaign, which forced him to move right on many issues, while Obama had no such recent ordeal.

The poll found an epic gender gap. Romney leads by 8 percentage points among men; Obama by 19 among women. More breakdowns and the full Post writeup here.

Comments (20)

  1. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 04/10/2012 - 10:34 am.


    “among a random sample of 1,103 adults” which could have included 18 year-olds standing in line outside the marijuana clinic.

    The lopsided opinion for the “unfairness in the economy that favors the wealthy” is the giveaway. Real people who hold jobs and head families don’t think in those terms.

    The number that should worry Obama is that he only gets 51% from “random adults.” What’s the *real* number from “likely voters?”

    Today, Rasmussen’s daily tracking poll: “President Obama and Mitt Romney are tied at 45%.”

    • Submitted by Arito Moerair on 04/10/2012 - 10:46 am.

      The irony, of course, is that you call the WashPost poll bogus, then tell us what Rasmussen belched. Rule of thumb for Rasmussen polls is subtract 5 from the R and add 5 to the D. So there you go.

      Also, my wife and I hold jobs and “head” a family, and we DO think in terms that the economy favors the wealthy. Frankly I’m surprised that only 52% agree.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 04/10/2012 - 11:46 am.


      I’m a real person. I hold a job–two of them, in fact–and I “head” a family (in partnership, with my wife).

      I think the economy is unfair, and that economic policies of the last 30+ years have favored the wealthy over all other Americans. The proof is in the increasingly lopsided distribution of wealth we see. There is also the mania for deregulation that has not kept predatory capitalism in check.

      You were saying?

      • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 04/10/2012 - 04:01 pm.

        Oh, look what I found

        And on this site too.

        “Among voters without a strongly held opinion of either Mr. Romney or Obama, 80 percent said they’d be more likely to support a candidate focused on economic growth and opportunity, while 15 percent said they would choose one emphasizing income inequality, according to a poll released Monday by the centrist Democratic group Third Way.”

        • Submitted by Brian Simon on 04/10/2012 - 04:32 pm.

          good grief

          I wonder what the margin of error is on that subset of the population who has no strong opinions of BHO or WMR. And how likely are they to vote?

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 04/11/2012 - 09:26 am.

          Your point?

          Many voters can regard both issues as important, but only one can be “most important.”

          I will repeat the question: How many voters now have no strong opinion regarding either candidate?

    • Submitted by Madeline Daniels on 04/17/2012 - 05:58 pm.


      Actually these polls are always done over land-line phone, so it skews against young adults and young households, which often get rid of land-line phones all together.

  2. Submitted by Peder DeFor on 04/10/2012 - 10:57 am.

    Isn’t this the poll

    With an eleven point lead between D’s and R’s? If that holds up to the election, then yes, Obama will cruise to an easy victory. Question to libs though, how confident are you, seven months before the election? 90%? 60%? Or is it just far too early to tell?

    • Submitted by Jim Bernstein on 04/10/2012 - 12:37 pm.

      Response to the “Cons”

      It seems that quite a few Americans are now realizing what we “libs” have been talking about for some time: that the “cons” who have captured control of the Republican Party are waging an intense war on women, the middle class, and older Americans to the benefit of the wealthiest Americans and certain corporate interests. Americans see more of their family and friends cannot afford health care insurance or are denied coverage. They witness efforts by Republicans to restrict the right to vote. They see Republicans continue to suppport cutting taxes for the wealthiest while getting in line to cut Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security benefits.They watch Republicans refuse to consider meaningful job creation strategies but propose unregulating industries that created the recession. People seem to be rallying around President Obama if for no other reason than the Republican alternative is simply too frightening.

  3. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 04/10/2012 - 03:02 pm.

    I’d use a different term…

    Instead of “frightening,” as Jim Bernstein suggested, I’d use “disgusting.”

    Mr. Tester’s social and political myopia is occasionally amusing, but more often simply reveals a disconnect from reality. I’m an old retired guy, living off the labor of others – a collectivist, in Tester’s world, just as he will be when he gets old enough or wise enough – but all the people I know, in and out of my own family, are employed, and they are unanimous in their dismay and occasional bitterness at the way(s) the “land of opportunity” has turned into the land of “right to work for less,” or the land of “women are – or should be, again – chattel.”

    My surprise is reserved for the smallness of Obama’s lead. I’m more than a little disappointed by Obama’s relentless desire to make accommodation to a right wing that despises him, and all who think differently than they do, but the alternative is simply ridiculous. Obama should be leading by more among both women and men. The fact that the numbers are less than I think they should be suggests to me that perhaps I’m not the only one disappointed by his too-often caving in to the right wing.

    On the other hand, as Eric is careful to point out with every one of these pieces, we’re in early April, and the election isn’t until early November, so there’s plenty of time for Obama to commit some horrendous error and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, or for Mr. Romney to reveal – a little too clearly – that he’s the candidate of the 1 percent, which might turn some reasonable numbers against him into a rout.

    We’ll see…

  4. Submitted by Eric Ferguson on 04/10/2012 - 03:10 pm.

    Romney, deficit, and economy

    How does Romney warrant a lead on the deficit and economy? Were those polled ignorant of how Bain ran businesses into the ground when Romney was there? He can’t fix economic problems by borrowing money and pocketing it for himself.

  5. Submitted by Virginia Martin on 04/10/2012 - 03:49 pm.


    I’m a real American, and I get angrier by the day about the 1% and the desire of the republicans to give them the store.
    Our hope: the 99%ers. We need to join them in every way we can. They are a big reason people are beginning to understand how our society is run, and by whom.

  6. Submitted by Brian Simon on 04/10/2012 - 04:28 pm.

    predictive value of polling

    It’s fair to note that the poll is of all adults, thus reducing it’s value as a prediction of the final score in Nov. But it’s likewise disingenuous to claim a poll today of ‘likely voters’ has any more predictive value. Instead, where both polls are more useful is in trend analysis. Recent polls have been showing a bump in support for the incumbent, and slippage for the challenger. The GOP, overall, is also going through a low spot. What will be worth watching is whether WMR can now rebuild his image & gain ground on Obama now that his challengers have dropped out of the race. So far it looks like people – Republicans included – just aren’t that into him, which could make for a long Mondale slog to November.

  7. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 04/10/2012 - 08:34 pm.

    likely voters

    are people who have voted in the last election and state that they intent to vote in this one. Likely voters are considered to be more aware of the issues of the day, watch network or cable news regularly, and have informed opinions.

    Registered voters have less credibility because many more people are registered to vote than actually vote and it says nothing about their awareness of the issues of the day.

    And “random adults” have no credibility because they could include the people Jay Leno interviews on his Jay Walking feature where people routinely can’t identify the vice president or which party controls congress.

    When informed voters make it to the polls and uninformed people don’t, republicans win.

  8. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 04/10/2012 - 09:58 pm.

    Romney said he’d authorize naming China as a currency manipulator.

    Maybe I’ll vote for him.
    I’d like to tell the grand-kids how things were during a full-blown trade war.

    They say that wars stimulate the economy, but I don’t believe a trade war does.

  9. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 04/10/2012 - 11:07 pm.

    Informed voters

    “When informed voters make it to the polls and uninformed people don’t, republicans win.” Indeed, the universe is filled with mysteries, one of which is the notion that Republican voters are somehow more “informed” than non-Republicans.

    Based on what I’ve read and heard in Minnesota and Colorado in the past few years, I’d be hard-pressed to find a large bloc of voters more UNinformed that Republican voters. Republican candidates may win, but it’s not because they or their supporters are “informed.” Michele Bachmann is many things, but “informed” is not one of them. Tom Emmer falls in the same category, as does Mr. Tester, at least based on what I’ve read in MinnPost comments.

    Democrats have plenty of problems of their own, but they’re no less informed than Republicans in my experience.

    • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 04/12/2012 - 01:48 pm.

      I have to agree

      I got pulled into an online debate on the Facebook page of a well-known Republican politician the other day, and it was a bizarre experience.

      Many of the Republicans were throwing around fabricated quotations from famous people (news flash: Thomas Jefferson never spoke against tax-supported welfare programs; they didn’t exist in his day, and the supposed quotation from Abrahan Lincoln was written in 1916), strange extrapolations from verses of Revelation, accusations that made it clear that the writer didn’t know what s/he was talking about, such as calling Obama “a Marxist” but being unable to cite any examples of his supposed “Marxism,” and incoherent diatribes that consisted of right-wing talking points strung together in no particular order. They didn’t even know who fairly recent Republican politicians and administration figures were. There were a couple of thinly-veiled racist rants thrown in for good measure.

      The Republicans who didn’t sound either uninformed or crazy sounded supremely selfish and disdainful of everyone who wasn’t lucky enough to be like them.

      The Democrats and leftists (the two groups do not necessarily overlap) were giving real world examples of the effects of Republican policies, challenging the Republicans to define their terms, calling upon their professional backgrounds as accountants or teachers to correct factual misconceptions, offering counter-examples to their statements, filling them in on the identities of major figures in their own political parties, and asking for empathy for those in different circumstances.

      The response from the Republicans was more incoherence from the uninformed and more snark from the informed.

      I can’t think of any other Western country where people like Michelle Bachmann, Sarah Palin, and Allen West, are treated as anything more than amusing sideshows, much less elected to public office.

  10. Submitted by David Mensing on 04/11/2012 - 09:33 am.

    Poll Methodology

    Most polls are pretty good at doing what they are supposed to do–take a snapshot of an issue today–but they don’t predict what will happen months from now or even weeks from now. Witness the polls for GOP presidential candidates. Rasmussen seems to have a real bias towards conservatives and partisan polls almost always favor who is sponsoring them.

    If a cross-section of polls all shows the same result, that result almost always happens. However, when polls are all over the place, their predictive value falls to almost zero.

    It is clear that Obama is ahead right now, but events and circumstances can take that all away. Probably the biggest question is how damaged a candidate Romney is. If not 50% would ever vote for him, he is doomed. If that number is lower, he has a chance.

  11. Submitted by Joe Musich on 04/12/2012 - 03:09 pm.

    also at minnpost

    While arguing who’s most informed spend a moment reviewing the above piece also appearing at this site.

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