PRINCETON, NJ -- Americans are about as likely to say they understand at least somewhat well what Barack Obama (64%) would do to create jobs if elected president as they are to say this about Mitt Romney (60%). This understanding is critical, given that creating jobs is perceived as the top priority for the next president.
Obama and Romney are no doubt aware of the high ranking Americans give to jobs as a priority for the next president, and both have spent a great deal of time talking about jobs on the campaign trail this year. As a result of either this campaigning, or a more basic understanding of the general ideological orientation of the candidates, the average American has at least a broad awareness of what the candidates would do to create jobs if elected.
In general, the data suggest that Obama and Romney need more to reinforce existing perceptions than to create brand-new understandings of their intentions on the employment front. However, neither has a clear advantage -- and with over a third of Americans saying they don't understand each candidate's plans, each can in theory do more to make his economic case.
Obama has been involved in government efforts to create jobs for 3 ½ years. While Romney can point to his experience in private-sector job creation, his approach to government job-creation policies is less tangible. As such, the parity in Americans' self-reported understanding of what each would do to create jobs is noteworthy.
Republicans and Democrats Most Likely to Understand "Their" Candidate's Plans
Republicans and Democrats are each more likely to say they understand what their party's presidential candidate would do to create jobs than to say they understand what the opposing party's candidate would do.
Specifically, 79% of Republicans say they understand Romney's plans but 49% say they understand Obama's plans. In contrast, 86% of Democrats say they understand Obama's job-creation plans -- twice the percentage of Democrats who say they know what Romney would do.
Just fewer than six in 10 independents say they understand Obama's and Romney's plans at least somewhat well -- slightly below the national average for each.
While Americans generally appear to understand what Obama and Romney would do to create jobs, that understanding is not universal. One in five Americans say they don't understand well at all what either would do. Still, this level of understanding is high enough to suggest that a lack of information about projected jobs-related plans of either candidate is not a major problem for voters.
Americans basically have as much of an understanding of what Romney would do to create jobs if elected president as they do of what Obama would do if re-elected -- despite Romney's "new kid on the block" status.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted July 19-22, 2012 with a random sample of 1,030 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample includes a minimum quota of 400 cell phone respondents and 600 landline respondents per 1,000 national adults, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cell phone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.
Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, and phone status (cell phone only/landline only/both, cell phone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2011 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.