For the first time, President Obama holds a clear edge over Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in a hypothetical general-election matchup, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. The Post reports that the State of the Union address and an increase in Americans' confidence about his economic stewardship helped with the numbers:
The poll results underscore how important framing the contest could be to the outcome. If the fall campaign becomes largely a referendum on Obama’s tenure in office, as Republicans hope it will, he could struggle to win a second term — barring an economic recovery that vastly outperforms expectations. If, however, it becomes a choice between the incumbent and the challenger, as Obama advisers predict it will, the president’s prospects would be brighter.
The survey was conducted Wednesday through Saturday. During that time, the president and the Republican candidates were in the spotlight: Obama had just completed his State of the Union address and held campaign-style rallies in battleground states, and the Republicans were in the middle of a series of primaries and caucuses.
Overall, 55 percent of those who are closely following the campaign say they disapprove of what the GOP candidates have been saying. By better than 2 to 1, Americans say the more they learn about Romney, the less they like him. Even among Republicans, as many offer negative as positive assessments of him on this question. Judgments about former House speaker Newt Gingrich, who denounced Romney on Saturday night in Nevada, are about 3 to 1 negative.
Meanwhile, the president’s recent remarks are better reviewed. Among the roughly 6 in 10 Americans who heard or read about the president’s State of the Union address, 57 percent say they approve of most of what he laid out.
Read more at the Washington Post.