Mitt Romney’s commanding performance on the debate stage last week has generated a significant bounce for his presidential candidacy, according to national polls released Monday.
The Republican nominee opened up a 4-point lead over President Obama, 49% to 45% among likely voters, in the latest national opinion survey by the independent Pew Research Center. In mid-September, Obama led by 8 points, 51% to 43%, in a survey by Pew, which has tended to show the president with a bigger advantage over Romney than have other major national polls.
Post-debate interviews with 1,201 voters found that the debate had lifted Romney’s standing among a wide range of voter groups. His overall personal image improved, with the percentage of voters holding a favorable opinion of the Republican nominee up 5 points since last month.
Romney also made major gains among two key elements of Obama’s coalition — women and younger voters. The GOP candidate wiped out Obama’s advantage among women voters. Last month, Obama led by 18 points among women, 56% to 38%; now they are even, 47% to 47%. And Romney’s image improvement among voters under 30 (he now is viewed favorably by 42% of that group, compared with 32% in September) was his biggest improvement of any age demographic.
Obama, meantime, suffered broad declines. On jobs, by a margin of 49% to 41%, voters now say Romney would be better able to improve the nation’s employment situation. That gain for the Republican came even though most of the interviewing for the poll was conducted after Friday’s release of monthly job figures that showed the unemployment rate falling below 8%.
Perhaps most worrisome for Obama, an enthusiasm gap that appeared to have closed after the two national party conventions has opened again — in Romney’s favor. His backers are far more engaged than Obama’s in the campaign; Romney holds a 15-point advantage over Obama when voters were asked if they had given a lot of thought to