WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama tops his main Republican rival in everything from personality to diplomacy - but when it comes to the economy, a new poll shows a potential weak spot in his bid to hold onto the White House.
A Washington Post-ABC poll on Tuesday found if the election were held now, the Democratic president would win in a match-up against Mitt Romney by 51 percent to 44 percent.
But the poll, conducted April 5 through April 8, shows Romney with a double-digit advantage among Americans when it comes to reducing the federal budget deficit, and with a narrow edge on managing the economy.
The finding show the president, who took office amid the largest economic slowdown since the Great Depression, is still vulnerable when it comes to matters of American’s pocketbooks and wallets despite his overall advantages.
Despite campaign salvos over healthcare and other issues, most political experts say the November 6 presidential contest will come down to how secure Americans feel about the nation’s economic growth.
Romney, a former business executive, hopes his financial background will help him take the White House even as he suffers from a sometimes awkward manner and gaffes that often have been related to his immense wealth.
In fact, just 26 percent of those surveyed said the former Massachusetts governor “seems friendly and likable” compared to 64 percent for Obama, and just 29 percent found Romney more inspiring than Obama, who polled at 55 percent.
With his campaign pegged to his financial prowess, Romney polled 4 percentage points ahead of Obama on handling the economy.
When it comes to creating jobs, the candidates are locked in a statistical tie, with 46 percent supporting Obama and 43 percent backing Romney - a gap within the poll’s margin-of-error of 3.5 percentage points.
Romney had a clear advantage on one issue - managing federal deficits, with 51 percent of the more than 1,100 polled saying he would do a better job on that compared with 38 percent for Obama.
The results show a country still grappling with a shaky economy as many Americans still cope with job losses, home foreclosures and higher gas prices, and points to Obama’s vulnerability in the months ahead.
The federal government is closing in on a fourth straight year of $1 trillion-plus deficits, with a nearly $1 trillion deficit projected for next year, and the issue of the nation’s spending has become a fierce debate.
The poll showed the candidates had gaps of support in certain types of voters, with Romney trailing among women and Obama behind when it comes to white voters without a college degree and white, college-educated men.
Editing by Vicki Allen