President Obama continues to hold a tenuous, statistically insignificant lead in a new Quinnipiac University poll released early on Wednesday, driven by what the pollsters describe as a wide gap in the vote preferences of single and married voters.
Obama leads presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, 46 percent to 43 percent, the poll shows. That is virtually unchanged from the previous poll, in mid-April, when Obama led Romney, 46 percent to 42 percent.
Unmarried voters support Obama by a 20-point margin, 54 percent to 34 percent. But married voters prefer Romney, 51 percent to 38 percent. Single women support Obama by a 2-to-1 margin, 60 percent to 31 percent. Married men back Romney, 54 percent to 35 percent.
"Although much has been made about the gender gap and how ... Obama's lead among women fuels his campaign, the marriage gap is actually larger and more telling," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "The marriage gap may be related to the different priorities and economic situations of married and single people."
The marriage gap is just one of the typical divisions evident in the survey. Each candidate holds 89 percent of his respective partisans, while independents back Romney by a miniscule, statistically insignificant 2-point margin.
Romney leads among white voters, 51 percent to 38 percent; most pollsters and analysts think Obama needs to earn between 37 percent and 40 percent of whites to win the overall popular vote, putting him close to his target. Obama carries 92 percent of black voters and 59 percent of Hispanics.
Among white voters, Obama continues to lag among those without college degrees, earning the support of just a third of blue-collar whites and trailing Romney by 20 points. The two candidates run virtually even among white voters with college degrees.
Other measures in the poll underscore Obama's continued vulnerability. More voters (49 percent) disapprove of the job he is doing as president than approve (45 percent). Just two in five voters approve of the job Obama is doing in handling the economy, with 55 percent disapproving. And a greater percentage of Republicans (47 percent) say they are "more enthusiastic" about voting than Democrats (32 percent) who say the same.
But, as in other surveys, voters are not sold on Romney as an alternative. More voters continue to have an unfavorable opinion of Romney (41 percent) than have a favorable opinion of him (37 percent). And asked which candidate they thought would do a better job on the economy, voters are split, with 46 percent picking Romney and 45 percent choosing Obama. The two candidates also run at parity on immigration and health care. Romney holds the slimmest of advantages when voters are asked which candidate would be better for their "personal economic future," while Obama leads by a significant margin on the issue of foreign policy.
Roughly three in five voters say both Obama and Romney have "strong leadership qualities," but Obama scores higher on the question of whether each man "cares about the needs and problems of people like you." Fully half of voters think Romney does not care about their problems, while 56 percent believe Obama does.
The Quinnipiac poll of 2,722 registered voters was conducted July 1-8. The margin of error is plus or minus 1.9 percentage points.