Wednesday, October 17, 2012
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- Religion. Romney struggled with white evangelical Christians during the primaries, but four out of five now support him. So do 54 percent of white Catholics. Romney's Mormonism can be a touchy subject, but religious talk tends to help Republicans, and he used the second debate to recall the pastoral and missionary work he's performed for his church.
- Age. Obama wins overwhelmingly among voters younger than 40; Romney leads with seniors older than 65. The problem for Democrats is that seniors vote far more often than youngsters. That's why the president will spend so much time on college campuses, hoping not only that students will vote but that they will use social media to encourage their friends to vote as well.
- Buyer's remorse. Fourteen percent of Obama voters from 2008, one in seven, say they're supporting Romney. That's devastating for the president, and it's why a recent Romney ad features a litany of disappointed Obama backers repeating the phrase, "I was wrong ...." In this week's debate, Romney reinforced this argument, telling those voters they didn't have to "settle" for a struggling economy.
- Gender. In the ABC/Post poll, Obama's edge among women shrinks to 7 points, half his margin of four years ago. Expanding the gender gap is critical for the president's chances, which is why he used the second debate to invoke his female relatives (mother, grandmother, daughters) and emphasize his concerns for women's health and equal employment laws. He was helped out by Romney's ham-handed reference to "binders full of women," which became an instant Internet meme and is likely to show up in future Democratic ads.
- Likability. Romney faces a huge likability gap. By 2 to 1, voters find the president friendlier. By 13 points, they'd prefer Obama to baby-sit their child. And the confrontational tone of the second debate did little to improve either candidate's likability quotient.
- Wealth. Voters still distrust Romney's priorities. Fifty-seven percent say he'll favor the wealthy, while two out of three say Obama supports the middle class. That's why the president used the debate to emphasize Romney's personal finances and reinforce the impression that his opponent does not understand or care about the problems of ordinary folks.
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