Americans really like Barack Obama—they're just not sure they'll vote for him. In a new Politico/George Washington University poll, a whopping 70% say they approve of Obama personally, and 56% approve strongly. That's compared to only 29% who strongly approve of Romney. But when it came to who they'd vote for, Romney edged out Obama 48% to 47%, opened a 10-point lead among independents, and had a 6-point lead among "extremely likely" voters—all at a time, GOP analysts note, when the Republican should be weakened from the primary.
There are signs that both candidates have been successful in getting their messages across. Some 58% said that Obama would be better at standing up for the middle class, compared to 35% for Romney. But Republicans have successfully painted Obama as a free-spender. Asked how new tax revenues should be spent, huge majorities said the government should pay down the deficit, rather than increase spending. But asked what they thought Obama would do, those same majorities said he'd increase spending. Click for more from the poll. (Read more poll numbers stories.)