Obama Job Approval Rating Up; Romney Remains Main GOP Rival

A recent survey from Pew People and the Press shows that support for President Obama is up in November, and that Mitt Romney leads a group of GOP candidates about whom the public is not very excited. A majority of Americans (52%) express a favorable view of President Obama, compared with 45% of Americans who hold an unfavorable view. Americans do not hold GOP candidates in such high esteem: more Americans view Romney negatively than positively (42% unfavorable vs. 36% favorable); the same holds true for Newt Gingrich (48% vs. 31%), Herman Cain (50% vs. 29%) and Rick Perry (50% vs. 25%).

As was the case in October, however, the survey suggests that a race between Obama and Romney would run about even, with Romney's support among independents far exceeding Obama's. 49% of respondents say they would vote for Obama in a head-to-head race with Romney, while 47% say they would vote for Romney. Among independents, Romney is the clear winner, with only 41% saying they would vote for Obama, compared with 53% who choose Romney.

Although Obama's overall numbers are up, a majority of Americans (58%) disapprove of his handling of the economy. Only 35% of Americans say he is doing all he can for the economy, with 61% saying he could be doing more. This is a reversal from March 2009 results, when 60% of Americans said Obama was doing all he could, and only 30% said he could be doing more. Still, more respondents (48%) say that they have been hearing a mix of good and bad economic news--matching the 48% who say news is mostly bad--than in October, when 58% of respondents said economic news was mostly bad, as compared with only 39% who said there was a mix of good and bad news. Obama scores better in foreign policy (46% approve) and on his decision to remove all American combat troops from Iraq by the end of the year (75% approve).

Although the survey suggests that Romney would be a strong challenger to Obama in a head-to-head race, Republican voters remain largely unimpressed with the GOP field. Only 48% say Republican candidates are of excellent or fair quality, compared with 46% who rate the field as only fair or poor. Pew writes: "GOP voters’ ratings of the field have shown little improvement since May and are at least as low as ratings for Republican candidates at comparable points in the 2008 and 1996 campaigns."

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