he latest set of U.S. public opinion polls shows a very close race for president this year between the incumbent Democrat, President Barack Obama, and his presumptive Republican challenger, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.
A new Quinnipiac University poll gives President Obama a narrow lead over Mitt Romney, 46 to 43 percent. This comes on the heels of a Washington Post-ABC News poll that has the race dead even at 47 percent each.
Romney received a decidedly mixed reception in a speech Wednesday to one of the country’s leading African-American civil rights organizations, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the NAACP.
Romney told the audience in Houston that he was a better choice than President Obama to turn around the economy and reduce unemployment among African-Americans, which stands at 14.4 percent, well above the national average of 8.2 percent.
But Romney got booed when he vowed to work toward repeal of the president’s signature health care law if he wins in November.
“And so to do that I am going to eliminate every non-essential expensive program I can find and that includes ‘Obamacare’, and I’m going to work to reform and save," said Romney.
Romney was occasionally jeered and much of his speech was met with silence. But he did spark applause when he repeated his opposition to same sex marriage, something many African-American voters oppose as well.
“As president, I will promote strong families and I will defend traditional marriage," he said.
With less than four months to go until Election Day, both candidates are stepping up their campaign activities, especially in the dozen or so states expected to tip the balance one way or the other in November.
President Obama told Iowa voters this week that Republicans complain about his record but offer little in the way of specific plans to tackle joblessness, economic growth and the deficit.
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“It sure as heck is not a plan to grow our economy," he said. "It is not a plan to revive our middle class. They don’t have that plan. I’ve got that plan, Iowa!”
The latest Quinnipiac poll gives the president a slight edge despite the fact that a majority of those surveyed disapprove of Obama’s handling of the economy.
“In this case the president has a small lead, 46 percent to 43 percent," said Peter Brown, who is with the Quinnipiac Polling Institute. "That is slightly outside the margin of error [for the poll] and obviously the president would rather be ahead than behind, but this is a very close election.”
Brown says the president benefits from a huge gap between married and unmarried voters. Those who are married tend to support Mitt Romney, while single voters, especially single women, are much more likely to support the president by a wide margin.
Brown also says that the efforts of the Obama campaign to spend millions of dollars in television ads attacking Mitt Romney in key battleground states may be paying some dividends.
“Americans, no matter who they are for, have a pretty well-fixed feeling about the president," he said. "They either like him or they don’t like him. With Romney it is less clear and what is going on now is there is a race to define Mitt Romney to the American voter and the campaign that does the best job defining Mitt Romney is going to win.”
Brown says the domestic economy remains the central issue in this year’s campaign and that voters in the latest poll are nearly evenly split as to which candidate would do a better job of reviving it.