A batch of national polls in the past week have found that President Barack Obama has opened up a significant lead over Mitt Romney in the presidential race, including a Fox News poll that found Obama leading by 9 percentage points.
The poll of registered voters released Thursday by Fox News found that if the election were held today, 49 percent would vote for Obama compared to just 40 percent for Romney. CNN's poll, also of registered voters, found 52 percent supported Obama and 45 percent supported Romney. A Reuters poll released Wednesday also found the president ahead of Romney by 7 percentage points.
In Real Clear Politics' average of national polls, Obama's lead has now grown to 4.4 percentage points, his largest lead since Romney emerged from the GOP primary in April.
In both polls, voters' perception of Romney suffered, especially among independent voters. Independents preferred Obama by 11 percentage points in both polls, and both surveys showed an increased number of voters viewed Romney unfavorably.
The results indicate the Obama campaign's recent criticisms of Romney--for cutting jobs at Bain Capital, favoring the rich, and refusing to release tax returns--may have damaged Romney. His support among conservatives and registered Republicans continues to increase, but less convicted voters appear to have be swinging in the president's direction.
Interestingly, Obama gained ground in voters' eyes in his handling of the economy, which respondents say is the most important issue of the campaign. The CNN poll found 47 percent of voters believed he would better handle the economy, 2 percentage points more than Romney, while the Fox poll showed Obama narrowed Romney's lead in this issue from 7 percent in June to just 3 percent, within the poll's margin of error.
Seth Cline is a reporter with U.S. News and World Report. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter.