A new poll conducted by Quinnipiac University in Connecticut suggests that for the first time US voters believe Mitt Romney, the Governor of Massachusetts and prospective Republican presidential nominee, would do a better job on the economy than Barack Obama. Confirming a trend recorded by two earlier polls -- one for CBS and the New York Times, the other for the Washington Post and ABC -- the survey also shows that more than half of all respondents disapprove of the President's handling of the economic recovery so far.
With growth flat-lining and the national unemployment rate remaining stubbornly above 9 per cent, these figures will be very worrying for the Democrats. The economy is set to be the defining issue of next year's presidential election and Obama's hopes of returning to the White House rest largely on how effective he is in persuading a sceptical electorate that he has a plan to get people back into work. Romney, of course, will be delighted with the poll results, not least because his campaign is built around his experience in, and knowledge of, the private sector.
But before they start preparing for a move back into the Oval Office, the Republicans should bear in mind that 51 per cent of the American public still holds George W. Bush's administration responsible for the mess the US economy is in. Romney will be vulnerable if Obama successfully casts him as a natural successor to the last president.