WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans are growing more optimistic about the economy and President Barack Obama’s leadership, creating a significant obstacle for Republican rival Mitt Romney five weeks to Election Day.
Even with unemployment above 8 percent for a 43rd straight month, polls find voters taking comfort in modest signs of economic progress, from a solid jump in consumer confidence this month to steady gains in home prices. Surveys show Obama opening up leads over Romney in several key states, thanks to voters such as Jim Young, 62, a retired engineer from eastern Iowa.
A political independent, Young says Obama’s policies have eased the nation’s pain as the recovery plods along. “The markets have been doing quite well,” Young said. “So, personally, things are going well and we can’t complain.”
Interviews with voters in vital swing states and opinion polls suggest Romney inadvertently played into Democrats’ long-running efforts to paint him as an out-of-touch plutocrat when a secretly recorded video showed him saying 47 percent of Americans consider themselves victims who depend on government care.
“Romney seems fake, especially after the 47 percent comment,” said Kurtis Nash of Cincinnati. “I’ve always voted for Republicans,” he said, but now he’s leaning toward Obama.