At first glance, the ABC News/Washington Post poll appears to show equally bad news for both Romney’s and Obama’s economic plans:
More than half of independents, 54 percent, say they see the president’s economic plan negatively, while just 38 percent say they consider Obama’s proposals in a positive light. For Romney, 47 percent rate his plans unfavorably, versus 35 percent who rank his proposals positively.
While more independents are undecided about Romney’s plans, giving the Republican challenger more room to attract support, the former Massachusetts governor is also likely benefiting from the fact that more conservatives identify themselves as independents than do liberals. Among self-described moderates, the president’s economic plan is actually favored, 48-46 percent, while Romney’s plan shows a 37-47 percent deficit.
But when you take a closer inspection, the news here is far worse for Obama than it is for Romney. For one, there are more respondents who are undecided on Romney’s plan, giving him more room to maneuver. Also note that Romney’s plan is less popular with conservatives than Obama’s is with liberals — but we can assume those conservatives would still be more inclined to support Romney over Obama at the polls.
Obama’s economic plan, meanwhile, receives poor marks from precisely the groups he needs to win over — middle-income Americans making $50,000 to $100,000 per year:
Romney lags among moderates, and does less well among conservatives than Obama does among liberals. But the president’s economic plans are underwater among middle- to upper-middle-income Americans, while Romney manages an even split in this group. And Obama’s economic program is especially unpopular – by 2 to 1 among whites, though he does far better than Romney among nonwhites.
Obama also lags with registered voters and independents:
Obama also crosses the 50 percent negative line among registered voters, who see his economic program unfavorably rather than favorably by 51-43 percent. Romney’s rating among registered voters is 46 to 40 percent unfavorable-favorable, again with more undecided.
Obama’s challenges vs. Romney show more starkly when two of the president’s weaker groups are combined – independents who are registered to vote. In this group, more see Obama’s economic plans unfavorably than favorably by 56-36 percent; on Romney’s it’s 45-39 percent.
No wonder the Obama campaign is aggressively trying to reframe the narrative on his economic plan. It may be too late to convince voters to support his proposals, but he still has a chance to turn the undecided ones against Romney’s plan.