A survey released Monday showed Americans split over which presidential contender would best handle the issues they consider the most pressing, saying President Barack Obama would best tackle health care costs while Republican Mitt Romney was better poised to slash the federal debt and deficit.
The poll, from Gallup, asked Americans to assess the importance of various economic issues. Of the 10-item list, 84 percent said the cost of health care was extremely or very important, the highest of any of the topics. Both unemployment and the federal debt were seen as extremely or very important by 82 percent of respondents.
Asked which presidential candidate would better handle health care costs, 51 percent named Obama, compared to 44 percent who said Romney. On the federal debt and deficit, the advantage was Romney's: 54 percent said the former Massachusetts governor would best tackle the problem, compared to 39 percent who named Obama.
On unemployment, the two candidates were statistically tied. Forty-eight percent said Obama was the best candidate to handle unemployment, compared to 47 percent who named Romney.
Both candidates had big advantages on other economic issues. More Americans said Romney would better handle the performance of savings and retirement accounts, 53 percent to 39 percent. But when asked which candidate would better handle living standards for poor Americans, Obama had a 28-point advantage over Romney, 62 percent to 34 percent.
The Gallup poll was taken by phone from 1,012 adults between May 10 and May 13. The sampling error was plus or minus 4 percentage points.