President Barack Obama has a seven-point lead ahead of his Republican rival Mitt Romney as a result of increased support from Independent voters, a pattern that does not bode well for the former Massachusetts governor, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released Tuesday.
Forty-nine percent of registered voters surveyed in a telephone poll between May 3-7 said they supported Obama, compared to the 42 percent who said they would cast their ballot for Romney, the presumed Republican nominee, in November. For Obama, the results represent a slight improvement from April, which showed him leading Romney 47 to 43 percent.
Meanwhile, Obama's approval rating inched up to 50 percent, up one point from last month. Americans' perception of the state of the nation and economy seem to be steadily improving, which the poll credits for the president's approval rating. About a third of respondents -- 35 percent -- told Reuters/Ipsos that the country is headed in the right direction; similarly, 57 percent said the country was off the wrong track, a 3 percentage-point increase from April.
That optimism is not relegated to Democrats alone. Forty-eight percent of Independent voters said they approved of Obama's job performance, compared to the 37 percent who approved of the president in April -- a significant 11 point jump.
Independents obviously are going to be critical in this election, Julia Clark, an Ipsos pollster, told Reuters. 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.
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Among the 959 voters surveyed in the poll, a majority said Obama was stronger than Romney on policy issues such as health care, Afghanistan, the war on terror, the economy, taxes, Medicare and Social Security. However, Romney led by one percentage point on immigration.
The Reuters/Ipsos is the latest poll to indicate Obama is leading Romney among voters, in national surveys. A recent Gallup/USA Today poll of 12 swing states determined Obama edged out Romney by a slight 47 percent to 45 percent. However, the president's lead is precarious; a seperate poll released by Politico and George Washington University on Monday found that Romney led Obama by one point -- 48 percent to 47 percent -- among registered voters, including a 10-point lead among independents.