Polls show the Democratic incumbent’s lead is shrinking as voters lose faith in his ability to tackle crucial domestic issues, in particular the economy, as growth slows and the job market stubbornly refuses to pick up. According to a Wall Street Journal and NBC poll published this week, only 36 per cent of American voters are confident Obama can improve the economy, while 43 per cent prefer Romney, a multi-millionaire former venture capitalist. Obama and his team have been hammering away at Romney’s argument that his business experience makes him the better choice to get Americans back to work, alleging that his firm often sacked US workers and sent jobs abroad. But the attacks appear to have gained little traction with a pessimistic electorate. Unemployment is stuck at 8.2 per cent and is not expected to fall below 7.9 per cent by the end of the year, the White House acknowledged yesterday.
Figures released by the US Commerce Department yesterday showed GDP growth in the second quarter slowing to 1.5 per cent from 2.0 per cent in the first, amid falling consumer demand. Economists warn that growth of less than two per cent is not enough to make inroads into unemployment, and Romney’s economic advisors claim that their policies could quickly double the rate. Sixty per cent of Americans believe the country is on the wrong track, the Wall Street Journal poll found. An average of national polls compiled by RealClearPolitics.com, a non-partisan website that tracks political trends, shows Obama slightly ahead of Romney overall, with 46.4 per cent of the vote to 45.1 per cent. His lead has narrowed from 3.6 per cent at the beginning of July, even though polling expert Nate Silver of the New York Times, gives Obama a 65 per cent chance of being re-elected thanks to the lead he enjoys in certain key states. In his speeches, Obama exhorts his followers to mobilize for what he warns will be a tight election. In fact, the WSJ and NBC poll found that only eight percent of the electorate remains undecided at this point. The campaign is likely to gather in intensity in August, and several key events in the coming weeks could still shift the momentun.
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