President Barack Obama (47 percent) leads Republican Mitt Romney (37 percent) in a national general election match-up, with 7 percent saying they would vote for a third-party candidate and 7 percent undecided, according to a Suffolk University survey of likely general election voters of all parties.
Obama led all GOP candidates: Romney by 10 points, Rick Santorum by 14 points, Newt Gingrich by 19 points, and Ron Paul by 21 points.
“GOP Primary taking toll”
“The Republican Primary race is taking its toll on Mitt Romney and the GOP,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. “The Republican Primary process has been so divisive that frustrated voters are saying that they would rather vote for a third-party candidate than one of the Republicans, which clearly benefits Obama.
“Romney’s unfavorables have shot up over the past year, while Obama’s core numbers have held in the mid-high forties,” he added.
Over the past 10 months, Romney’s unfavorable rating grew from the 32 percent recorded in a May 2011 Suffolk University general election survey to 44 percent, while his favorable rating stayed relatively flat at 38 percent.
Some 43 percent of likely voters said that the recent Republican Primary made them less likely to vote Republican in the general election; 29 percent of voters said more likely; and 21 percent indicated no difference.
National primary & voter IDs
A majority of respondents (54 percent) support a national primary held on one day to replace the current state-based party-delegate process, which can last up to six months before a party settles on a nominee.
Regarding the controversial voter ID issue in some states, 73 percent of likely voters said they believe that citizens should be required to show a photo ID before voting, while 24 percent were opposed to the practice.
34 percent want health care repealed
As the Supreme Court takes up the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed in 2009, a minority of likely voters (34 percent) believe it should be repealed, while 32 percent said it should be modified, and 23 percent said it should be left alone. When respondents were asked if they are personally better or worse off as a result of the national health care reform law, 33 percent said they were worse off, while 40 percent said it has made no difference, and 20 percent said they are better off.
“Although ‘repeal’ is the buzz word for the most conservative Republican Primary voters, the poll tells us that, among the broader electorate, only a minority want to repeal it, and a majority say it has made no impact or a positive impact on their lives,” said Paleologos.
Feeling recession’s effects
Strong opinions were recorded regarding the economy, which could be the dominant issue in the fall. Despite reports that the U.S. recession officially ended nearly three years ago, 83 percent of those polled said it continues, while 14 percent believe the recession is over.
When likely voters were asked whom they will vote for if the price of regular gas hits $4.50 per gallon this October, 36 percent said they would vote Democratic and 37 percent Republican, with 21 percent undecided.
“High gas prices linked to a flailing economy could automatically wipe out the advantage that the Democratic Party now enjoys,” said Paleologos. “It could be the Achilles heel, come November.”
On oil policy, 78 percent of likely voters (+9 over last year) said the United States should increase its domestic oil production, even if it includes more offshore drilling, and 60 percent said the federal government should eliminate tax breaks and subsidies for oil companies. More than two-thirds (68 percent) said that federal money spent to develop alternative technology will significantly contribute to creating jobs and fixing the economy.
Voters identified Iran (36 percent) and China (27 percent) as posing the greatest threats to the United States.
When asked how the United States should respond if Israel and Iran were to engage in a military conflict, 34 percent said the United States should work with the United Nations and European Union to secure peace; 32 percent said we should fully support Israel, 17 percent supported engaging in peace talks with Israel and Iran, and 13 percent said do nothing.
FOX News (28 percent) was chosen as the TV news or commentary source most trusted by likely voters followed by CNN (17 percent), NBC (10 percent), MSNBC (8 percent), ABC (7 percent), CBS (6 percent), Comedy Central (3 percent) and CSPAN (2 percent). Nineteen percent of those polled were undecided.
Perceptions about November outcome
Regardless of their personal voting preferences, 51 percent of likely voters said they expect Obama will remain president in 2012, compared with 28 percent who said Romney will replace him.
The nationwide survey of 1,070 United States likely voters was conducted March 21-25, 2012, using live telephone interviews of landline and cell phone users. The margin of error is +/- 3.0 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. Marginals and full cross-tabulation data will be posted at noon Monday, March 26, on the Suffolk University Political Research Center Web site. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310, , on Twitter: @DavidPaleologos.