Romney tops Obama 46-44 in Fox poll
What is going on? First, the Fox results:
Republican Mitt Romney holds a slim edge over President Obama in a head-to-head matchup, a Fox News poll released Thursday shows. In addition, the poll finds the president's job rating has dropped to its lowest point of the year.
In a presidential matchup, Romney tops Obama by 46-44 percent if the election were today.
As with every Romney-Obama matchup in the past six months, the race is so tight that it is within the poll's margin of sampling error. This, however, is only the second time the Fox News poll shows Romney on top. The first time was November 2011, when he was also up by 2 percentage points.
The poll was conducted Monday through Wednesday. On Tuesday, Rick Santorum suspended his presidential bid -- giving Romney a clear path to the Republican nomination.
More Republicans (42 percent) than Democrats (32 percent) or independents (34 percent) say they are "extremely" interested in the upcoming presidential election.
Even so, the strength of party support in the matchup is dead even: 85 percent of Democrats back Obama and 85 percent of Republican back Romney.
First, and most importantly, many polls - including the ABC poll last week - undercount Republicans. Secondly, the economic news was fairly good until the end of last week and the week before. Optimism is creeping into economic news more frequently and this reflects to Obama's advantage.
It could also be a factor of GOP primary fatigue last week as most Americans had grown tired of the contest. Even after Romney's big wins on April 3, Santorum showed no signs at that time of conceding. This may have had a negative effect on Romney's numbers.
Then came the bad jobs report on Friday and that may have damaged any optimism that had been pushing Obama's numbers higher. There is also the inevitability of Romney's victory, even before Santorum quit. So here we are, pretty much tied up with less than 7 months to go.
From here on out, as long as Romney keeps Obama below 50%, the incumbent is in trouble. But if Obama's numbers top 50% for an extended period, Romney will be the one needing to scramble.