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President Barack Obama has gained an advantage over Republican Mitt Romney in a Pew Research Center poll of public confidence in handling of the economy.
Obama leads Romney by 50 percent to 43 percent among registered voters surveyed, Pew reports, with the Republican Party’s presumed presidential nominee losing 3 percentage points since its previous poll in early June.
Public opinion on which candidate would do a better job of improving economic conditions has shifted from an advantage for Romney in Pew’s June survey to support for Obama in the latest survey of 2,373 registered voters conducted June 28-July 9.
“Romney has not seized the advantage as the candidate best able to improve the economy,” the Pew Research Center states in its website report on the survey. “In fact, he has lost ground on the issue over the past month.”
The shift in opinion is notable after two months of reports from the U.S. Department of Labor that the nation’s rate of unemployment has held steady at 8.2 percent, with just 77,000 jobs added in May and 80,000 jobs added in June.
Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, called the latest jobs report a “kick in the gut” and evidence that the president’s economic policies aren’t working.
Obama has pointed to more than two years of consecutive job growth from month to month, with more than 4 million jobs added, and maintained that “inch by inch, yard by yard, mile by mile,” the economy is improving. He has campaigned against Congress for not enacting measures which might add more jobs.
The Pew survey found that the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling on June 28 upholding the core of the president’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has had little impact on the presidential campaign. The law is intended to provide health insurance for millions of Americans who don’t have coverage.
Romney and Republican congressional leaders have called the law’s requirement that most people obtain insurance or pay a penalty a “tax.” Yet the Pew report states that “health care remains a secondary issue” in the campaign.
The nation’s job situation is the leading issue in the campaign, the survey finds. Romney, a co-founder and former chief executive officer of Boston-based Bain Capital, is campaigning as a candidate who knows how to create jobs.
More voters voice confidence in Obama’s ability to improve the job situation -- by a margin of 46 percent to 42 percent. Voters surveyed said Obama can do a better job of improving economic conditions by 48 percent to 42 percent.
The survey also found stronger support for the president among his backers, with 64 percent of Obama’s supporters in the poll saying they strongly support him and 34 percent of Romney’s backers saying they strongly support the Republican.
The survey’s margin of error is plus or minus 2.3 percentage points.
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