- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 30, 2012

DENVER — President Obama has opened a sizable lead over Mitt Romney in polling ahead of the election as both Democrats and Republicans are increasingly convinced that he is going to win re-election, according to The Washington Times/Zogby Poll released Sunday.

In the latest poll, Mr. Obama drew 49.7 percent support while the Republican nominee garnered 41.1 percent. The previous Times/Zogby polls showed the race a dead heat — including just before the national party conventions, when they were tied with 45.7 percent of the vote each. Even with third-party candidates added to the mix, the results barely changed.

Click here to view poll data (PDF file)

Mr. Obama’s support is growing even as voters are split on whether they are better off than they were four years ago — the key question Mr. Romney poses on the campaign trail — and even as voters said they weren’t happy with the president’s handling of the attacks on U.S. diplomatic posts three weeks ago.

“If Obama were running against himself, ‘Would you vote for Obama, yes or no,?’ this would be a much closer race. To a great degree, it’s all about Mitt Romney right now, and the judgment today is he doesn’t appear to be a suitable alternative, including for people who don’t want to vote for Obama,” said John Zogby, the pollster who conducted the survey.

“Now, it’s not over — oh, absolutely, it’s not over. No prediction here. But [Mr. Romney] is on the ropes,” he said.

The poll of 800 likely voters, taken Thursday through Saturday, has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points. Those who didn’t have a definitive choice for president were asked which way they leaned, and those were included in the head-to-head tally.

The survey, which was weighted for demographic purposes, tracks with other national surveys that show Mr. Obama gaining momentum as the election nears, and shows Mr. Romney’s window closing.

Indeed, 57 percent of voters now say they expect Mr. Obama to cruise to re-election, which is up 10 percentage points from just before the parties’ national conventions. The higher expectations hold true across the ideological spectrum, with Democrats, Republicans and independents becoming more convinced of Mr. Obama’s success.

Analysts said Mr. Obama got an initial bump out of his convention in early September, and then Mr. Romney stumbled for several weeks, particularly with the release of a video of him telling a closed-door group of donors this year that 47 percent of voters are dependent on government and see themselves as “victims.” He said he didn’t expect to win the support of those people.

Asked in the poll, 41 percent of voters agreed with Mr. Romney — about equal to the support he is getting overall.

Meanwhile, 40 percent of voters, including 68 percent of Democrats and 41 percent of independents, “strongly disagreed” with Mr. Romney’s remark.

Speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan said Mr. Romney had been “inarticulate” with the comment, but added that Republicans believe the president has fostered an atmosphere of dependence on the federal government.

“Here and there, we have not been able to frame that choice as clearly [as we have wanted],” he said. “I really believe that by the end of this day, people are going to understand what they’ve got and the choices that they have.”

The Times/Zogby poll had good news for Mr. Obama across the board. He led Mr. Romney in each of five areas: jobs and the economy, national security, immigration, energy and foreign affairs.

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