Contrary to the national media narrative, the 2012 battle for the White House is much closer than most people realize. If the eventual GOP nominee wants to unseat Obama, he will need to win independents and make greater inroads with Hispanics and women. From Steven Thomma at McClasty:
Months into a bruising primary campaign, Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney is still neck and neck with President Barack Obama in a hypothetical general election matchup, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll (released 3/26/12).
Obama leads Romney 46-44 percent, suggesting a country that remains closely divided between the major parties, unwilling to rally to the Democratic incumbent and refusing to cast aside the front-runner for the Republican nomination after a dark hour of attacks and sniping inside his party.
Rick Santorum, the other major GOP candidate, remains close to Obama as well. The poll finds the president leading him 48-43 percent in a possible fall matchup.
A key reason they're both close: Each edges the president among independent voters by 1 point. Another: The president, while enjoying an uptick of support on his handling of the economy and foreign affairs, nevertheless has the overall job approval of fewer than half of American voters at 48 percent, with 47 percent disapproving and 5 percent unsure. He fares a tad better when voters were asked whether they have favorable or unfavorable impressions of him: Fifty percent are favorable, 46 percent unfavorable and 3 percent unsure.
Looking ahead to an Obama-Romney matchup, Obama holds 89 percent of Democrats, Romney gets 87 percent of Republicans and independents split 44-43 for Romney.
Obama leads among female voters by 48-42, and African-Americans by 91-6. Romney leads among men by 47-44, whites 51-40 and Latinos 48-37.
Complete survey results available at: http://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/328329/mcclatchy-marist-poll-politics.pdf