Voters now give Mitt Romney the nod when it comes to handling national security, and he has recaptured a lead over President Obama when voters are asked who will do a better job on the economy — findings that spell bad news for the incumbent.
Little more than a week ago, heading into the first debate of the campaign season, Mr. Obama led on the economy and national security, as well as handling of energy, immigration and foreign affairs. In each of those categories he either topped or was just below the magic number of 50 percent support.
But that changed in the latest The Washington Times/Zogby Poll conducted by Zogby Analytics, released Monday, which gave Mr. Romney a 48 percent to 45 percent advantage on national security and a 50 percent to 44 percent advantage on jobs and the economy.
John Zogby, the pollster for the survey, said those two are "unarguably the two most significant issues" facing voters in this election, which helped propel Mr. Romney back into a tie with Mr. Obama in a head-to-head matchup.
Mr. Romney also made up ground on all three of the other issues surveyed, though Mr. Obama maintained a 50 percent to 44 percent lead on foreign affairs and a 48 percent to 41 percent lead on immigration policy.
The two men were virtually tied, however, on energy policy, 46 percent to 46 percent — a huge change from before the debate, when the president led 51 percent to 40 percent.
In the debate, Mr. Romney accused Mr. Obama of wasting taxpayer money on green energy projects such as Solyndra, the solar panel manufacturer that filed for bankruptcy after taking more than a half-billion dollars in government loan guarantees.
"I had a friend who said, you don't just pick the winners and losers; you pick the losers," Mr. Romney said. "This is not the kind of policy you want to have if you want to get America energy-secure."
Mr. Romney said Mr. Obama earmarked $90 billion in one year for green-energy subsidies.
But Mr. Obama countered that Mr. Romney wanted to continue siphoning tax subsidies to oil-drilling companies, and said the time has come to cut those kinds of fossil-fuel companies off.
"Governor Romney and I, we both agree that we've got to boost American energy production," Mr. Obama said. "And oil and natural gas production are higher than they've been in years. But I also believe that we've got to look at the energy source of the future, like wind and solar and biofuels, and make those investments."
Indeed, voters seemed to side with Mr. Obama on that specific question.
The Times/Zogby Poll found 29 percent of likely voters wanted to cancel tax breaks for corporate jets and oil companies — the targets of Mr. Obama's tax-raising plan — while 21 percent agreed with Mr. Romney that the green-energy tax breaks should be done away with.
Another 20 percent wanted to see both oil and green energy tax breaks canceled, and 17 percent — about evenly split between Democrats, Republicans and independents — said taxpayers should continue to subsidize both.
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