While the contenders for the Republican presidential nomination hurl mud at each other, someone else has been quietly burnishing his own political credentials with the American public – and apparently with some effect.
Barack Obama, according to a new poll from The Washington Post/ABC News, is getting better marks on several fronts even if the mood of voters remains sour when it comes to the economy. Notably, in a hypothetical match-up against Mitt Romney, the Republican front-runner, Mr Obama would win by nine points, 52 to 43.
The poll highlights the challenges Mr Romney will face if he can win the Republican nomination. It will also further convince advisers to Mr Obama that he will fare better in November if the election becomes one of contrasts between him and the former Massachusetts Governor and is less of a referendum on his stewardship of the American economy. Mr Obama seems to be regaining traction in spite of prevailing economic pessimism. In this poll, he clawed back up to a 50 per cent approval rating – considered a minimum benchmark for an incumbent seeking re-election – even though a full 89 per cent of respondents viewed the economy negatively.
Most worryingly for the Republicans, by more than two to one people said the more they learn about Mr Romney the less they like him. The two men were also tied when people were asked who would be better at creating jobs.