Romney Up In Horserace, But An Independent Candidacy Would Hurt Him

May 16, 2012, 4:00 PM GMT+0

(Week of 5/12/2012) This week’s Economist/YouGov poll shows Mitt Romney jumping to a small lead over Barack Obama. The former Massachusetts Governor leads the President 46%-42%.

The race is close in all age groups, among independents and with both men and women (though Obama has a slight lead with women, Romney a small lead with men). Romney continues to lead with voters who say religion is important to their daily lives; Obama leads with those who do not.

Despite the closeness of the contest, voters are much more likely to believe the President will be re-elected than to think Romney will win. 47% say the President will definitely or probably win; only 26% say Romney will.

So it may not be surprising that there is interest this year in third-party candidacies. The Economist/YouGov Poll this week included a test of one potential candidate.
If General David Petraeus were to run for President as an independent candidate, Romney could be especially hurt.

In a three-candidate election, the President would defeat Romney by seven points, 41% to 34%. Petraeus would win 13%. But that support is not equally distributed. 16% of Republicans and 21% of independents would support Petraeus in that threeway race. Just 3% of Democrats would desert their party and support the General.

Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here

Photo source: Press Association