Elections 2012: Obama Leads Romney, Helped by Independents, Poll Finds

President Obama leads Mitt Romney by 7 percentage points in a new poll, but that lead narrows to 2 points if Romney runs with Ohio Sen. Rob Portman.

With six months to go before Election Day on November 6, Obama was backed by 49 percent of registered voters in the telephone poll, compared to 42 percent who supported Romney. Photo: Pete Souza/The Official White House

President Barack Obama extended his lead over Republican challenger Mitt Romney to 7 percentage points, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed on Tuesday.

The poll conducted in April showed Obama leading Romney 47 percent to 43 percent, according to Reuters.

The recent pollshows that 49 percent of registered voters in the telephone poll back Obama, compared to 42 percent who support Romney.

At the same time, The Hill reports, Barack Obama leads Mitt Romney by 7 percentage points in the crucial swing state of Ohio, according to a new poll from the Democrat-affiliated group Public Policy Polling. Obama leads Romney by 50 to 43 percent in Ohio.

“The economy continues to chug along. Presidential ratings are correlated fairly closely with economic optimism and when the public sees things like unemployment going down and other signs of economic recovery, they are more inclined towards voting for the status quo – which in this case is to keep the incumbent in office,” said Ipsos pollster Julia Clark.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted after Obama made a surprise trip to Afghanistan to mark the first anniversary of the killing of bin Laden and signed a strategic pact with Kabul and told Americans the war was winding down.

However, 51 percent of registered voters thought Obama was stronger on Afghanistan and on terrorism while 28 percent said Romney had a stronger position on Afghanistan.

A majority of registered voters said that Obama was stronger than Romney on healthcare. Romney had a 1-point advantage over Obama on immigration.

President Obama’s approval and disapproval numbers are even at 48 percent, while 53 percent of voters disapprove of Romney and only 37 percent approve of the former Massachusetts governor.

Barack Obama’s lead in Ohio slightly narrows to 49 to 44 percent if Mitt Romney chooses Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) as his running mate, although most Ohio voters have little opinion of Portman.

The automated poll of 875 registered Ohio voters was conducted from May 3-6 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percent.

Independents seem to help Barack Obama. 48 percent approved and 40 percent disapproved of his performance in May compared to 37 percent who approved and 57 percent who disapproved in April.

“Independents obviously are going to be critical in this election,” said Clark. “That independent approval jump is absolutely significant. It contributes to his jump in approval month on month. We’re talking increments here, but where Obama is right now, the increments matter a lot.”

“In the broader picture, this month Obama does really appear to be making that slow but steady progress he will need to continue to make to seal the deal,” Clark said.

The Reuters/Ipsos pol showed voters think President Obama is just slightly stronger than Romney, a former business executive who has touted his economic experience during the campaign, on the issues of jobs and the economy.

When asked which of the two was stronger on the topic, 45 percent of registered voters surveyed picked Obama while 43 percent chose Romney.

The poll also showed that voters from the two parties are falling in behind their candidates, what makes the independent vote more important.

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