Republican Mitt Romney holds a slim edge over President Obama in a head-to-head matchup, a Fox News poll released Thursday shows. In addition, the poll finds the president’s job rating has dropped to its lowest point of the year.
In a presidential matchup, Romney tops Obama by 46-44 percent if the election were today.
As with every Romney-Obama matchup in the past six months, the race
is so tight that it is within the poll’s margin of sampling error. This,
however, is only the second time the Fox News poll shows Romney on top.
The first time was November 2011, when he was also up by 2 percentage
Click here for full poll results.
The poll was conducted Monday through Wednesday. On Tuesday, Rick
Santorum suspended his presidential bid -- giving Romney a clear path to
the Republican nomination.
More Republicans (42 percent) than Democrats (32 percent) or
independents (34 percent) say they are “extremely” interested in the
upcoming presidential election.
Even so, the strength of party support in the matchup is dead even:
85 percent of Democrats back Obama and 85 percent of Republican back
Among the highly sought after group of independents, the poll found
43 percent back Romney and 37 percent Obama. Nearly one in four
independent voters (21 percent) is undecided or won’t vote for either of
the major party candidates. Last month, independents split evenly
between Obama and Romney at 40 percent each. In February, Romney had a
The poll shows the gender gap may not solely be a problem for the
Republican candidate. Women are more likely to back Obama (by 49-41
percent), while men are even more likely to give their support to Romney
(by 52-38 percent). The 2008 Fox News national exit poll showed women
voted for Obama over Republican John McCain by 13 percentage points
(56-43 percent). Historically, exit poll results show women have
consistently backed the Democrat over the Republican in presidential
Obama’s overall job approval rating stands at 42 percent, down from
47 percent last month. The drop comes mainly from Democrats: 80 percent
approve now, down from 86 percent in March. A 51 percent majority of
voters disapproves of the job Obama is doing.
News of a stalled economic recovery has likely contributed to the
decline in the president’s approval. The disappointing employment report
from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday and the recent stock
market losses both received significant news coverage in the last week.
The stock market suffered its worst losses of the year on Tuesday.
The poll shows these economic issues will continue to be a challenge for Obama.
More voters think Obama’s policies have hurt (37 percent) rather than
helped the economy (31 percent). Three in 10 say his policies haven’t
made much a difference either way (31 percent).
By more than two-to-one voters say the spending is out of control and the country must take action to reduce the national debt.
Meanwhile, 29 percent of voters say they are “scared” about the
country’s financial future and another 49 percent are “concerned, but
not scared.” Less than one voter in five feels “confident” (18 percent)
and 4 percent are “enthusiastic.” Current views are similar to those
from one year ago.
Just under half of Republicans -- 46 percent -- are scared about the
future. That’s about three times the number of Democrats who say the
same (14 percent). Thirty-one percent of independents are scared.
Most Americans -- 67 percent -- are unhappy with the direction of the
country. About a third of voters (32 percent) say they are satisfied
with the way things are going today. That’s little improvement from the
30 percent who felt that way a year ago (April 2011) and down a couple
notches from two years ago (35 percent). This question is an important
indication of voters’ mood. If the national mood is either positive or
moving in a positive direction, that’s seen as good news for the
By a 7-point margin, more voters think Romney has the best experience
to fix the economy (46-39 percent). Romney’s advantage widens over
Obama to 41-28 percent among independents. And that advantage on
handling the economy is a big boost for a candidate when over half of
voters (53 percent) say the economy will be “extremely” important to
their vote for president.
Not surprisingly, more voters prioritize the economy than any other
issue tested. Just under half of voters say the federal budget deficit
(45 percent) and health care (44 percent) will be “extremely” important
in their presidential vote decision.
Among voters who say the economy is "extremely” important, Romney has
a 55-37 percent advantage over Obama, and a 62-29 percent edge among
those who say the same of the federal deficit. The two candidates are
essentially tied among people who say health care is extremely
The poll also asks voters about some personal characteristics of the president and the presumed Republican nominee.
By a 9-point margin, voters are more likely to say Obama is
“smarter,” than Romney, and by 7 points Obama is seen as “more
Finally, Obama has a 2-point edge when voters are asked which
candidate is more likely “to tell you the truth.” Nearly one voter in
five says “neither” will be honest (18 percent).
The Fox News poll is based on land-line and cell phone interviews
with 910 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and is conducted
under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw
& Company Research (R) from April 9 to April 11. For the total
sample, it has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage