Americans are both warming up on the economy and to Republican Mitt Romney's candidacy, according to a national poll released Sunday by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal.
Romney and President Obama are tied among likely voters at 47 percent apiece, although Obama holds the advantage among registered voters 49 percent to 44 percent nationally. Obama also holds wide leads on a host of personal qualities, including a 16-point lead on which candidate is better at "looking out for the middle class," 13-percent lead on "being knowledgeable and experienced enough to handle the presidency," and a large 32-point advantage on "being easygoing and likable."
But Romney is ahead on who's "better prepared to create jobs and improve the economy over the next four years" by a 4-point spread, 45 percent to 41 percent.
"What appears to have benefited Romney, especially after the first two presidential debates, is that voters are more comfortable with him," NBC News Senior Political Editor Mark Murray wrote about the findings. "A combined 47 percent of registered voters say they are either optimistic and confident or satisfied and hopeful that Romney would do a good job as president — up five points since the last NBC/WSJ poll."
Romney maintains a tiny advantage in the PollTracker Average of the presidential race nationally.
But while voters trust Romney more to improve the economy, they also think it's already growing. "Forty-five percent believe the economy will improve in the next 12 months," Murray wrote. "That's up one point from the last poll and a whopping 18 points since July. What's more, 41 percent think the country is headed in the right direction, which is the highest mark on this question since June 2009."
The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll used 1,000 live telephone interviews with registered voters conducted (700 via landline and 300 by cell phone) conducted Oct. 17-20, which carries a margin of error of 3.1 percent. The likely voter sample was 816 voters with a sampling error of 3.43 percent.