Polls of Americans' economic behavior indicates the economy is gaining momentum, but voters haven't noticed yet. Even if they still think the economy is weak, President Obama has a surprising lead over Mitt Romney in North Carolina, and Romney is historically unpopular among Republicans. Here's our guide to today's polls and why they matter.
Findings: Economic indicators show the economy has positive momentum -- Americans were employed more, spending more, and hiring more in March compared to February 2012 and March 2011.
Methodology: Several tracking polls of tens of thousands of adults.
Why it matters: It's good news in that, we all want to live in a healthy economy. However, most Americans don't think we're there yet. An ABC News/ Washington Post poll released Tuesday found that 76 percent think the economy is still in a recession, The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza points out. The recession technically ended in June 2009. In the general election, Obama will have to convince people the economy is doing well, all things considered, and Romney will have to convince them it would have been so much better if it weren't for Obama's economic policies.
Caveat: Gallup notes that its tracking poll was conducted before a disappointing jobs report (only 120,000 jobs added) and a stock market drop. "Those events could spark another reversal like so many others that have occurred since 2009, but thus far, Gallup indicators suggest otherwise," Lydia Saad writes.
Findings: Obama is leading Romney in North Carolina by 49 percent to 44 percent.
Pollster: Public Policy Polling
Methodology: Robo-calls to 975 voters from April 4 to April 7.
Why it matters: The Obama campaign thinks one of the five ways it can get to 270 electoral voter is by winning Virginia and North Carolina. A few months ago, that looked very difficult. But PPP's Tom Jensen writes that Obama's net approval rating is positive for the first time in 10 months in North Carolina, with 49 approving and 48 disapproving. Romney is seen favorably by 29 percent of North Carolinians, and unfavorably by 58 percent of them. (Over the last month, Obama has averaged a lead of 4 points over Romney in Virginia.)
Caveat: PPP is a Democratic firm, but it notes, "It's unlikely Obama will really end up taking North Carolina by 5 points in the fall." Obama won North Carolina in 2008 by just 14,000 votes.
Findings: Romney was ahead of Rick Santorum 42 percent to 24 percent when Santorum quit the presidential race Tuesday.
Methodology: Interviews with 1,149 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents from April 4 to April 9.
Why it matters: The race is over, so who cares, right? Romney's level of support is a historic low, Jeffrey M. Jones writes. No other Republican primary winner since 1972 has had such a low level of support. In 2000, George W. Bush claimed the historic low at 57 percent -- 15 percentage points above Romney.
Caveat: "A candidate's share of the vote in nomination preference polls partly depends on the number of challengers in the race and the strength of those challengers, so it is not a definitive measure of candidate appeal, but it does give an indication of it," Jones says.