Gender gap closing - not unexpectedly

Romney is making a strong comeback among women voters while President Obama's personal popularity has taken a hit.

The latest ABC/Washington Post poll  shows Romney gaining 13% over the last survey among women voters while narrowing the favorability gap with the president to 52-41. It was 21 points last month.

This survey comes after a period in which Romney's chief GOP competitors withdrew from the Republican race and lined up behind his candidacy. Romney clinched his party's nomination in Texas last night.

All Romney's gains have come among women - up by 13 percentage points in personal popularity from last month, while Obama's lost 7 points among women. (Views among men have been more stable.) Obama's rating among women, 51 percent favorable, still beats Romney's 40 percent - but again that margin is far smaller than what it was six weeks ago.

An ABC/Post poll last week found improvement for Romney in vote preferences among married women. This survey finds that his gains in personal favorability, instead, come predominantly among unmarried women, who saw him uncommonly negatively earlier this spring.

This poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, finds that Obama's ratings among all adults are slightly positive, 52-45 percent favorable-unfavorable, vs. 56-40 percent last month. Romney is numerically underwater (albeit not by a significant margin), 41-45 percent - but up from his 35-47 percent score last month. Forty-one percent favorable is a new high for him, by a scant 2 points from January. It's his first foray above the 40 percent line.

Romney's 35 percent favorability in April was the weakest on record for a presumptive presidential nominee in ABC/Post polls in primary seasons since 1984. While he's since gained 6 points overall, he's still less popular than most previous eventual nominees at this stage of a presidential campaign. Only one has been this low in comparable data - but that one, Bill Clinton in 1992, did go on to win.

Expect the gender gap to narrow even further - ending up a spread from 4-7 points. That's where it's been since 1980 - with exceptions in 1996 and 2000 - and despite the ravings of Obama's feminst allies, there is little to indicate it will be any different in 2012.