President Obama leads Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney in a new national survey by the Washington Post and ABC News. The poll showed Obama garnering 51 percent support from the registered voters surveyed compared to 44 percent for Romney.
Similar to other recent polling, Obama holds a nearly 20 point advantage among women voters, while Romney leads by nearly 10 points among men.
The issues Romney performs best on include his ability to handle the country's debt, improving the economy and job creation. Obama's top issues are protecting the middle class, foreign affairs, women's issues and health care, according to the survey.
Voters are also far more likely to find the president friendly and likeable compared to Romney. But the poll also indicated Obama was potentially vulnerable because many people are unhappy with the high gas prices as well as the slow rate of economic recovery – most people said the country is still in a recession and that their local economy is not improving.
The poll surveyed 1,103 adults from April 5 to 8 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 points.
Later Tuesday Obama will try and press his advantage with middle-class voters on Romney and Republicans with a populist economic message of 'fairness' and pushing for increased taxes on millionaires during an appearance in Florida.
He will be pushing for support of the 'Buffett rule,' named after billionaire Warren Buffett who has decried the fact that he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary because his income comes from investment rather than wages. The Senate has scheduled a vote on the measure for Monday, though it is widely expected to fail. If passed, it would require the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans pay a tax rate of at least 30 percent, regardless of where their income comes from.
In a sign the general election is underway despite the fact that Romney has not formally sewn up the GOP nomination, Obama's campaign team held a conference call with reporters on Monday to begin hitting Romney on the issue of tax fairness.
Romney himself revealed earlier this year that he pays an effective tax rate of about 15 percent because most of his income comes from capital gains. It's a much lower rate than most American taxpayers pay.
The White House released a report Tuesday to bolster the president's case. It showed that since 1960, many of the country's wealthiest had gotten wealthier at a rate that far out-paced the rest of Americans while seeing their tax burden drop. But the report also noted that the Buffett rule would not impact all millionaires.
"Some high‐income Americans pay near their statutory tax rate, while others take advantage of tax expenditures and loopholes to pay almost nothing," said the report. "For example, a hedge‐fund manager might characterize his or her compensation as capital gains, thereby paying a fraction of the taxes they would pay if their income was classified as wages, the same as other working Americans."
It's this tactic the Buffet rule is aimed at stopping, according to the report.
"The Buffett Rule is not an across‐the‐board tax increase on high‐income households; it is a way to ensure that no millionaire is paying less than the middle class," it said.
Romney's campaign, meanwhile, has countered that Obama simply wants to raise taxes at a time the economy can ill-afford it.
"He wants to raise taxes on millions more by taxing small businesses and job creators," said Gail Gitcho, a Romney spokeswoman in a statement released Monday. "We appreciate the Obama campaign reinforcing Mitt Romney's platform of lowering tax rates across the board in order to jumpstart this bad Obama economy."
Romney is scheduled to campaign in Delaware on Tuesday and in Connecticut and Rhode Island on Wednesday. Republican primaries are scheduled in those states as well as New York and Pennsylvania on April 24.
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