Increased support from female voters has helped elevate Mitt Romney's favorability rating to its highest point so far, according to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll.
Romney's campaign has struggled to generate enthusiasm from its inception: More voters (45 percent) said they view the likely Republican nominee unfavorably than those who had a favorable perception (41 percent). But that is still a significant improvement from the poll's previous installment, which gave Romney a historically bad 35 percent favorability rating.
President Obama's numbers also slipped somewhat. While his favorable-unfavorable split was still positive (52 percent to 45 percent) the margin was thinner than the 56-40 level he registered in April's ABC News/Washington Post poll.
GOP Women: Rallying Behind The Nominee-Designate
Republican women appear to be coalescing behind Romney now that he has clinched the nomination, with his favorability among that demographic shooting up to 80 percent. Romney also got a substantial boost from female voters in general, with his 40-44 favorable-unfavorable split marking a sharp improvement from an abysmal 27-52 ratio in April.
Both parties are making a play for female voters, who overwhelmingly backed Obama in 2008. Democrats have accused Republicans of fomenting a war on women, while Republicans have countered that Democrats are pushing a condescending narrative of women being dependent on government.
Democrats have highlighted efforts in Republican-controlled states to roll back reproductive rights and strident Republican opposition to the new healthcare overhaul's mandate that all businesses provide health insurance covering contraception, including religious institutions like Catholic hospitals. More recently, Democrats have lambasted their Republican counterparts for stalling a renewal of the Violence Against Women Act.
Romney has for the most part avoided wading into those issues, although he joined Republicans in denouncing the birth control mandate. His campaign has maintained its strategy of focusing on the economy, saying the best way to help women is to guarantee their economic opportunity.