The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll portends an epic class-warfare fight. President Obama is attempting to portray himself as the defender of the middle class while also painting Mitt Romney as a wealthy, out-of-touch, flip-flopper. The president’s 6-point advantage on the ballot score has to hearten even the most skeptical Obama supporter.
But a closer look at historical polling data combined with some key economic measures suggests that neither the president nor Mr. Romney begin the general election in a strong position. These mixed signals mean the president is unlikely to ever break away and open up a commanding lead.
On the one hand, the president’s job approval rating is at 49 percent. His ballot score is also at 49 percent. He’s likable, and that’s worth a lot. He’s in pretty good condition, given the economic slump the U.S. has been in since he took office.