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Posted by on Jul 24, 2012 in Politics | 2 comments

NBC/WSJ Poll: Obama’s Numbers Up But Negative Campaigning Is Hurting Both Candidates

A new NBC/WSJ poll has a double message: (1) President Barack Obama’s numbers are slightly up so now he’s six points ahead of presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, and, (2) negative campaigning is hurting both candidates.

Obama scores his highest negatives ever in this poll — and Mitt Romney sets record for any GOP Presidential nominee in this particular poll’s history for having the highest unfavorable ratings ever.

After weeks of furious attacks on the campaign trail, as well as millions of dollars in hard-hitting television ads, the increasingly negative tone of the election has taken a toll on President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney, according to the new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

Both presidential candidates have seen their “very negative” ratings increase to all-time highs in the poll. And Romney’s overall favorable/unfavorable score remains a net negative – a trait no other modern presumptive GOP presidential nominee (whether Bob Dole, George W. Bush or John McCain) has shared.

What’s more, pluralities say that what they’ve seen, heard and read about the two candidates in recent weeks has given them less favorable impressions of each man.

Not good news for either campaign — and they’re both relying on tearing down the other. MORE:

Indeed, the percentages signaling a less favorable impression about these candidates – especially at this point in the race – are greater than what the NBC/WSJ poll showed in the 2004 and 2008 presidential contests.

“This is not characteristic … for July,” says Republican pollster Bill McInturff, who conducted this survey with Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart. “These are numbers you usually see in October.”

“It does speak to the growing polarization of the campaign,” McInturff adds

In the presidential horserace, Obama leads Romney by six percentage points among registered voters, 49 percent to 43 percent.

That’s a slight change – within the margin of error – from last month’s poll, which showed Obama ahead by three points, 47 percent to 44 percent.

In a smaller sample of registered voters living in 12 battleground states (Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin), the incumbent president’s lead over Romney is eight points, 49 to 41, which is essentially unchanged from June.

But among high-interest voters across the country – those indicating a “9” or “10” in interest on a 10-point scale – Romney edges Obama by two points, 48 percent to 46 percent…..

Moreover, 33 percent view Obama very positively, while 32 percent view him very negatively – which is his highest “very negative” number in poll.

One key characteristic, NBC reports: the race has remained remarkably stable.

The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza puts this and another poll into perspective:

President Obama’s best chance at winning a second term this fall revolves around turning the race from a straight referendum on his economic policies and toward a debate about which candidate better shares voters’ values, according to two new national polls.

In a new NBC-Wall Street Journal poll, President Obama held a 49 percent to 33 percent edge on the question of which candidate is “looking out for the middle class” while new Gallup data showed Obama with a 50 percent to 39 percent edge on who “understands the problems Americans face in their everyday lives”.

But, when the questions — in both polls — focus on economic ideas and vision, the two candidates’ fates in the race are reversed.

Forty-three percent of respondents in the NBC-WSJ poll say that Romney has “good ideas for how to improve the economy” while 36 percent say the same of Obama. In Gallup, Romney has a 10-point edge over Obama on the candidate better equipped to handle the economy and a 19-point edge on which of the two men is more able to address the federal budget deficit.

Which narrative comes to define the campaign in its final 100 days or so then has huge implications as to the outcome.

Obama’s latest ad — in which he speaks directly to the camera for the first time in the campaign — is a clear attempt to define the election as a values not an issues choice.

“Over the next four months you have a choice to make,” says Obama “Not just between two political parties or even two people. It’s a choice between two very different plans for our country.”

The contrast Obama is trying to drive in the ad though isn’t really between two different “plans” but between two different sets of values and priorities.