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

Obama leads on most personal measures and many issue areas, but not handling the economy

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.

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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.