With the approaching presidential election likely to serve as a referendum on the economy, Mitt Romney appears poised to dominate among white voters still fighting to weather the economic downturn.

A new Washington Post/ABC news poll asked likely voters which candidate could best secure their family's financial interests, and the response fractured along racial lines: whites who are still battling unemployment and financial insecurity chose Romney over President Obama by a 58 percent to 32 percent margin, while nonwhite voters said Obama could better protect their families, regardless of their respective economic situations.

President Obama won 43 percent of white voters in 2008, the best showing among white voters by a Democratic presidential candidate since Jimmy Carter captured 47 percent in 1976. A decline in white support could hurt Obama, particularly in battleground states with large blue-collar populations like Pennsylvania and Ohio.

But other polls suggest that Obama's winning 2008 coalition remains intact -- he is still a wide favorite among Latino voters and female voters, although a sharp drop in Hispanic and black voter registratoin is an ominous sign -- and a Gallup poll released on Thursday suggests that the president will perform well among professionals and service workers.

When it comes to the economy, recent polling finds voters evenly divided between Obama and Romney when they are asked who can help revitalize the economy and generate jobs, which they identified as easily the most important issue.