Reuters/Ipsos polls show scope of challenge facing Romney
By John Whitesides
DENVER (Reuters) - Heading into his first debate with Democratic President Barack Obama on Wednesday, Republican Mitt Romney has some convincing to do.
During the next five weeks - and three debates - Romney will make an appeal to voters aimed at overcoming an Obama campaign that has outflanked his own for much of the past four months. Romney enters the final sprint to the November 6 election behind in national polls and trailing in most of the nine or so politically divided "swing" states that are likely to decide the election.
Just as important, Romney trails Obama among likely voters on a broad array of issues and personal ratings that reflect the scope of the challenge Romney faces in trying to come from behind and snatch the presidency from the Democratic incumbent.
A series of Reuters/Ipsos tracking polls indicate that Obama has small leads over Romney on separate questions about which candidate would best handle the economy and who could create more jobs, even though Romney has made his business experience as the head of a private equity firm the centerpiece of his campaign.
Obama has double-digit leads on who would do better on taxes, 45 percent to 35 percent, and on dealing with the Social Security retirement program, 43 percent to 31 percent.
Likely voters are particularly supportive of Obama on more personal issues. Romney, who has been portrayed by Obama's campaign as an out-of-touch millionaire, trails Obama by about 30 points among likely voters who were asked which candidate was more likable. Romney trails by 20 points on the question of which candidate best understood voters.
Such questions touching on Romney's likability and empathy might pale in importance to questions about the economy and other domestic policies but taken together they present significant hurdles for Romney, whose difficulty in connecting with voters has been a constant problem of his campaign.
"Those personal attributes are soft metrics," Ipsos pollster Julia Clark said. "But they contribute to how much a voter trusts and feels comfortable with a candidate." Continued...