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Poll: Obama, Romney split on top economic issues

May 21, 2012|By Morgan Little
  • In this combo made from file photos, President Obama, speaks at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign stop in Wilmington, Del.
In this combo made from file photos, President Obama, speaks at the University… (Carolyn Kaster, Evan Vucci…)

President Obama beats Mitt Romney on controlling healthcare costs, Romney wins on dealing with the deficit, and they are essentially tied on who can better attack unemployment, according to a new USA Today/Gallup poll that assesses how voters view the two presidential candidates on economic issues.

Not surprisingly, the voter preferences match up well with the candidates' respective campaign narratives.

When asked which candidate would be more capable of handling specific issues, Obama led on the cost of healthcare by seven points while Romney boasted a 15-point hold on the budget deficit and debt. Obama held a statistically negligible 1-point lead on unemployment.

Fourteen percent more Americans see Romney as better equipped to handle the financial performance of savings and retirement holdings and 10% more think he’s more able to combat weak economic growth. Obama polled significantly better on addressing living standards for the poor, with a 28-point lead, and held a 16-point edge on how to deal with the consolidation of wealth by a small subset of the population. The poll showed Obama holds a 15-point advantage on controlling the cost of a college education.

The importance that Obama's and Romney’s backers place on specific economic issues aligns with each candidate’s perceived capability to address them. Ninety-one percent of Democrats see the cost of healthcare as extremely or very important, compared with 78% of Republicans. Ninety-three percent of Republicans, on the other hand, place the same priority on deficits and debts, compared with 74% of Democrats.

The results of the poll could almost be predicted by looking at the two campaigns. Each has so far played to its respective base, and to the issues the polls show are their strengths. On Friday, Romney stopped in New Hampshire purely to highlight the Obama administration’s spending, accusing it of its own “bridge to nowhere.”

Obama’s campaign, on the other hand, has sought to portray Romney’s emphasis of deficit reduction and prior business experience as dangerous to long-term growth, with Vice President Joe Biden recently serving as the campaign’s economic mouthpiece in Ohio.

The USA Today/Gallup poll was conducted between May 10-13 among a random sample of 1,012 adults with a margin of error of plus or minus 4 points.

Original source: Poll: Obama, Romney split on top economic issues

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