Tales from the Trail

Married v. unmarried could be the new election “gender gap”

Despite the American obsession with voting differences between men and women – the famed U.S. election “gender gap” – there is a far bigger “gap” dividing likely voters in 2012 - the yawning divide between marrieds and unmarrieds.

Fifty-seven percent of likely voters who are unmarried support Democratic President Barack Obama in the Nov. 6 general election, including those who have never been married, live with a partner or are widowed, divorced or separated.

Thirty-three percent of those unmarried likely voters back Republican challenger Mitt Romney, giving Obama a 24-point edge among the 910 respondents, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling data for the week ended Oct. 21.

Among married likely voters, Romney led by a 13 percentage point margin, 53 percent to 40 percent, in a sample of 1,322 respondents, for a yawning 37-point “marriage gap.”

“There is something that appears to be around the marriage factor alone,” said Ipsos pollster Julia Clark.

Foreign policy issues rank low among voter priorities

Hype for the third and final presidential debate tonight has been considerably less than for the two previous face-offs — perhaps for good reason. The debate is focused on foreign policy, and Americans don’t seem to care that much about it.

“War/foreign conflicts” and “terrorism/terrorist attacks” tied for a spot near the bottom of a list of issues from which respondents were asked to identify the most important, in Reuters/Ipsos polls conducted since January. Only 2 percent of likely voters saw each of those two as issues of top importance.

In October, 43 percent of likely voters said the economy was the most important issue and 25 percent pointed to “unemployment/lack of jobs,” followed by healthcare (7 percent), morality (5 percent), “other” (5 percent), education (4 percent) and immigration (3 percent).

Vice presidential candidates by the numbers

The vice presidential candidates who will take the stage for a debate at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky this week are just as polarizing as their running mates, according to Reuters/Ipsos polls. “Very unfavorable” was the most commonly held view of both men.

According to data collected last week, Vice President Joe Biden is seen “very unfavorably” by 22 percent of respondents, in line with President Barack Obama’s “very unfavorable” score of 27 percent.

U.S. Representative Paul Ryan, the Tea Party darling and Republican budget master, has a corresponding figure of 25 percent. Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s “very unfavorable” score is, like the president’s, 27  percent.

The “likability” factor

Is Mitt Romney “likable enough”? The eve of the first 2012 presidential debate is a good time to revisit that concept, made famous in an exchange between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton during a primary debate in 2008.

The answer, based on Reuters/Ipsos polls, is bad news for the Republican nominee.

It’s not just that, as anyone who has followed this race knows, President Obama claims a majority of respondents on the question, “Which candidate is more likable?” – 52 percent among men and 51 percent among women. What must concern the Romney campaign is how low the favorable response to that question is for their candidate. At 24 percent for men and women, it is lower even than the combined number of “neithers” and “don’t knows.”

Romney’s problems with minority voters extend to Asians, study shows

Republican Mitt Romney’s problems appealing to minority voters extends beyond blacks and Hispanics, with Asian-Americans also heavily favoring Democratic President Barack Obama’s re-election on Nov. 6.

Among likely voters who are Asian American, 43 percent back Obama, compared with 24 percent for Romney. But there are still many out there to be won over, because a third – 32 percent – of those who are judged likely to cast ballots on Nov. 6 have not yet made up their minds, according to the National Asian American Survey, which organizers said was  the largest such study of Asian American and Pacific Islanders’ public opinion ever done in the United States.

Many, however, have yet to be won over, because a third – 32 percent – of those who are judged likely to cast ballots on Nov. 6 have not yet made up their minds, the study found.

2012 Election? In hot summer, it’s leaving Americans cold

A long spell of brutally hot weather is not the only thing making Americans cranky this summer.

With four months still to go before the presidential election on Nov. 6, Americans seem to be experiencing the 2012 campaign more like studying for a big math test than watching an exciting neck-and-neck horse race, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. More Republicans in particular are bored with the campaign.

The poll 0f 2,013 adults conducted June 7-17 found that most Americans find the presidential election campaign between Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney to be important and informative – but also exhausting, annoying, too negative, too long and dull.

Then came social issues and ‘morality’…

RTR2CNMS_Comp-150x150The Tea Party’s November victories and the ensuing Republican drive for spending cuts are in large part the result of a political strategy that focuses tightly on fiscal and economic matters, while minimizing rhetoric on moral questions and social topics. But for how much longer can Republicans keep a lid on the culture war?

The 2012 presidential race, though lacking in declared GOP candidates, may be about to pry open a Pandora’s box bearing the name of social issues that have long divided Republican and independent ranks. And such an occurrence could work against the interests of fiscal conservatives, just as the GOP girds itself for a showdown with Democrats over spending cuts and the debt ceiling later this spring.RTXXP42_Comp-150x150

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, one of those Republicans who are running for president without actually running for president, tells NBC’s Today show that social conservatism is what built America and made it strong.

Palin: White House decision months away

USA/Sarah Palin said in an interview aired on Friday that she is months away from deciding on a run for president but would not be fazed by weak poll numbers if she chose to seek the Republican Party nomination.

“It’s a prayerful consideration,” the former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee told ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “Other folks can jump in and that kind of helps you get that lay of the land. But my decision won’t be made for some months still.”

Palin has become a celebrity of the Republican Party and the Tea Party movement over the past two years by gaining recognition as a  best-selling author, a television pundit and the host of her own TV reality show. She is currently promoting her second book, “America by Heart.”   

Washington Extra – The octopus is dead, long live the opinion pollster

We start this afternoon with the sad news of the demise of Paul, the psychic octopus who captivated the world this summer with his uncanny ability to predict the results of Germany’s World Cup soccer matches.

Fear not, though. There are other ways to divine the future, and especially the results of next week’s midterm elections.

GERMANY/But first of all Washington Extra would like to categorically deny that Paul, just before taking his last gulp of water, predicted that Republicans would win control of the House and Democrats would cling onto power in the Senate. It’s just not true. And if he did, he was only reading our poll data.

Feingold trails in new Reuters-Ipsos poll

USALiberal stalwart Russ Feingold trails his Republican challenger by 7 percentage points in a new Reuters-Ipsos poll of Wisconsin’s Senate race released on Tuesday.

With less than a month to go before the Nov. 2 elections, Republican Ron Johnson leads Feingold, a Democrat, 51 percent to 44 percent among likely voters.

That’s good news for Republicans, who are counting on a Wisconsin victory to help win control of the Senate. Not so good for Democrats, who could see the three-term incumbent swept out of office due to worries about the economy.