Tampa (Florida): On the eve of his crucial acceptance speech at the Republican national convention, Mitt Romney clinched his highest favourable rating so far -- of 48 per cent -- but still lagged behind Barack Obama in the latest Gallup poll.
The Republican presidential challenger trails the President on character-ratings though he leads on the economy, where Obama`s record has not been favourable, the survey agency said in a statement.
Overall, Obama was found to have a favourable rating of 53 per cent, while Romney got a 48 per cent approval rating, the best ever, in the USA Today/Gallup poll conducted August 20-22.
Romney`s improved image could benefit him as he takes the stage at the Republican National Convention tomorrow.
"While this gap is down from his double-digit favourability deficits against Obama at times over the past year, any deficit in favourability could be an obstacle to victory for Romney, and thus will be important for him to try to rectify via this week`s convention or during the fall campaign," it said.
A separate Gallup measure of Romney and Obama in June on specific characteristics had found Romney lagging significantly in terms of being "likable".
Eight in 10 Americans at the time, 81 per cent, said this trait applies to Obama, compared with 64 per cent who said it applies to Romney.
When asked in the latest poll to say which of the two candidates is more likable, Americans again chose Obama over Romney by 54 per cent to 31 per cent.
That 23-point deficit, wide as it is, is actually an improvement for Romney compared with earlier in the year.
Obama also holds solid leads over Romney as the better candidate on a number of personal dimensions, Gallup said.
Romney does no better than tie Obama in terms of being the candidate who Americans say can more effectively manage the government.
This parity could disappoint Romney supporters, who may envision this as a core strength for Romney, given his business and gubernatorial background, it said.
Romney, however, in the same poll, did better compared with Obama on two economic issues.
He is significantly more likely to be perceived as the better candidate to handle the federal budget deficit and holds a lead on the economy.
At the same time, Obama holds strong leads on foreign affairs, energy, and Medicare, as well as modest leads on taxes and healthcare, Gallup said.