Despite Mitt Romney's enduring lack of personal appeal, he and President Obama remain locked in a tight contest in several swing states, according to two new polls.
The latest Washington Post/ABC News poll affirms that while many voters are disillusioned with Obama's performance, a majority still view him in a positive light. 53 percent of respondents said they had a favorable view of Obama against 43 percent who said the opposite.
It is the opposite for Romney, who has struggled to make a positive impression even as his perceived strength as a candidate allowed him to secure the Republican presidential nomination. A majority of voters continue to hold an unfavorable view of Romney, and the Washington Post/ABC News poll found 40 percent of voters looked favorably upon Romney against 49 percent who saw him unfavorably.
That confirms a dynamic that has been at play for months: while Republicans see Romney as the candidate most likely to take back the White House, he has still failed to inspire much enthusiasm. Earlier polls found voters saying they liked Romney less as they learned more about him, and Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) confirmed the disconnect when he said Americans "probably aren't going to fall in love with Mitt Romney."
"95 percent of the people that show up to vote in November are going to show up in that voting booth, and they are going to vote for or against Barack Obama," Boehner said at a Romney fundraiser in West Virginia. "This election is going to be a referendum on the president's failed economic policies" Boehner added.
That strategy appears to be working in a handful of tightly contested states. The latest Quinnipiac/New York Times/CBS News Poll found voters in Wisconsin, Virginia and Colorado -- all states that Obama won in 2008 but could cede this time around -- split on who they would vote for. Colorado voters said they would choose Romney by five points, while Obama was leading by a similar margin in Wisconsin and Virginia.
The economy continues to be the most important issue to voters, and in all three states people were more likely to say the national economy was getting worse or staying the same than to say it was improving. But people polled were more optimistic about the economic outlook in their respective states, saying it was improving or remaining the same.
Voters have a generally dim view of Obama's economic policies, and were more likely to think Romney would help their financial prospects. But the Obama campaign's attacks on Romney's record at Bain Capital seem to be resonating: slim majorities in Wisconsin and Virginia said the former Bain CEO had been too focused on reaping profits rather than creating jobs. Clear majorities in all three states said candidates should release several years of tax returns, something Romney has been reluctant to do amidst speculation that he paid a low tax rate.