Mitt Romney holds thin advantages over President Obama on leadership, personal values and honesty, according to a new poll for The Hill.
The poll, conducted for The Hill by Pulse Opinion Research, suggests voters see little difference between the candidates on character issues that Democrats have cited as key to Obama’s appeal.
It found 48 percent of voters consider Romney the stronger leader, compared to 44 percent who favored Obama.
Similarly, 47 percent of likely voters also said Romney most shares their values while 44 percent picked Obama.
When asked which candidate voters considered more honest and trustworthy, 46 percent said Romney and 44 percent said Obama — a result within the poll’s 3 percentage point margin of error.
The results may prompt new questions about the effectiveness of the Obama campaign’s effort to characterize Romney as a calculating former corporate executive who has little in common with ordinary voters.
The findings could also raise a red flag for Obama, who analysts say needs to maintain a strong personal connection with voters to balance off his chief political weakness — the economy.
“I think in a very close election — which this one promises to be — those intangibles do make a difference and it could be a decisive difference for some people,” Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University, told The Hill.
“Even before Romney was the [de facto Republican] nominee, Obama’s character and personality always polled better than his policies and better than his performance,” Jillson said. “If he were being evaluated purely on performance, he would be in great difficulty.”
The poll found 93 percent of voters consider “policies and competence” more important than “likability” when choosing who to support for president.
Jillson said the result shows voters “care about” the candidates’ policies, but he believes “those personal characteristics actually [count] for far more than 3 percent in voter decision making.”
Obama has generally fared better than Romney throughout the campaign in polls assessing the candidates’ personal qualities.