A new national Wall Street Journal poll found that President Obama has extended his lead over Gov. Mitt Romney, in part on renewed optimism about the economy.
Obama leads Romney 50% to 45% among likely voters, the WSJ says. And Obama's job approval rating has hit 50%.
Importantly, an equal number of those polled now think Obama will be better for the economy. In past polls, Romney has dominated on this issue. We should also note that this poll was taken before Mitt Romney's recent gaffe over how 47% of Americans are dependent on the government.
[Related: Are 47% of Americans Govt. Moochers?]
Helping Obama in the poll was an increase in optimism about the economy: 42% of those surveyed think the economy will get better in the next 12 months, a higher number than in prior polls.
But when you look at what is actually going on in the economy, that number is somewhat surprising, at least from a macro standpoint. China is slowing, Europe is a mess and Japan's central bank just completed another round of asset purchases. Here in the U.S. the Federal Reserve announced last week an open-ended QE3 and extended near-zero interest rates through mid-2015. Even FedEx (FDX), a bellwether for economic activity, warned about slowing global economic growth on Tuesday.
Action by the Fed comes on the heels of slowing job growth in recent months. While the U.S. unemployment rate is 8.1%, the so-called "real unemployment" rate is 14.7% -- a number that takes into account part-time workers who want full-time employment and those who have dropped out of the job search entirely.
President Obama told Americans at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte that the economy is actually headed in the right direction because of his economic policies. Voters will either confirm or repudiate his administration's course of action in November.
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