(Week of 4/21/2012) Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, now the near-certain Republican nominee, has gained considerable acceptance from the GOP faithful in the wake of Rick Santorum’s exit from the nomination race two weeks ago. Additionally, the latest Economist/YouGov Poll indicates Romney has also gained support from the general electorate in his November contest against President Obama — and that contest is now effectively a toss-up.
57% of Republican voters in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll say Romney is their choice for their party’s nomination. Still, while neither of the two men remaining in the GOP contest poses a threat to Romney, 43% of GOP voters remain unwilling to commit to him.
But GOP voters are increasingly saying the race should end now. 61% want the remaining candidates (former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Texas Congressman Ron Paul) to quit, up from 52% last week. 39% still want the race to go on.
This poll holds a real bright spot for Romney — he now runs even with President Obama when registered voters are asked how they would vote if the November election were being held today. 47% choose Romney, 46% President Obama. Last week, the President held a seven-point lead.
And when it comes to registered voters’ overall views about the two candidates, there is not much difference. Unfavorable evaluations slightly outnumber favorable ones for both: 51% of registered voters hold unfavorable views of the President, while 47% are favorable; for Romney those numbers are 49% and 45%.
Romney has solidified his GOP base, more than nine in ten of whom say they will vote for him in the fall. He leads in the South, the Midwest and the West, and trails only in the Northeast. Romney is ahead 60% to 36% among older voters.
There is a gender gap (men favor Romney by eight points, women favor the President by four). There is also a religion gap. The Republican receives majority support from those who say religion is very or somewhat important in their lives. The President has an even larger majority among those who say it is not. That gap extends to the way the two candidates are perceived. 45% of the public say they would describe Romney as religious. Only 15% view the President that way.
One other positive sign as Romney looks ahead to the fall is that more Americans are beginning to think he will win the election. In this week’s poll, 44% think Romney can beat Barack Obama, up six points since last week. But a majority, 52%, think the Democrat will win. 83% of Republicans are hopeful their candidate will win.
Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here
Photo source: Press Association