Negative talk about Obama spikes in poll

White House photo

Heading into the Democratic and Republican conventions, a new “Conversation Nation” poll suggests people are feeling markedly less enamored of their commander in chief this week.

Negative chatter about President Obama spiked 13 points last week, according to the latest data from the weekly National Journal-Keller Fay Group poll measuring adults’ conversations about politics. That boosted “mostly negative” talk about the president to 45 percent, compared with 31 percent that was mostly positive (a 10-point drop from the week before). It was the second highest percentage of bad-mouthing that Obama has registered since early June, a troubling sign for a president who has stayed competitive during a painfully sluggish economy in part because of his personal likability.

Positive word of mouth about presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney was on the rise as Obama’s became less positive. The trend toward negative conversations about Obama coincided with Romney running mate Paul Ryan’s first week on the campaign trail, and with Romney’s decision to go on offense against Obama for what he called angry, desperate and hateful campaign tactics.

Negative talk about Romney has consistently outweighed positive talk since early June, but the latest data shows that changing. Thirty-four percent of the daily talk about Romney last week was negative on average and 36 percent was positive. If the programming at the GOP convention in Tampa next week does a good job of introducing Romney to voters, those numbers could improve further.

The results from respondents in the Conversation Nation poll suggest Americans are tuning into the presidential election more as Romney has picked his running mate and the conventions near. Daily talk about each of the presidential and vice presidential candidates increased over the last week, with chatter about Ryan peaking at nearly 20 percent on Aug. 18—significantly higher than Joe Biden’s 11.4 percent on the same day. Discussions about Romney, meanwhile, continue to lag behind Obama, but he is closing the gap—on Aug. 19, almost 37 percent of Americans said they had a conversation about the president while 33 percent reported talking about Romney.

Talk relating to the presidential election continues to happen mostly the good old fashioned way—78 percent of the conversations were conducted face-to-face, with only 10 percent on the phone and an even more paltry 5 percent taking place via the Internet and social media.

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