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Romney leads Obama in leadership, values and honesty, Americans think creating jobs is the most important issue for the next president, and Obama's approval rating is up. Here's our guide to today's polls and why they matter. 

Findings: By small margins, voters give Romney higher marks for his leadership, values and honesty/trustworthiness. When asked who was the stronger leader, 48 percent of likely voters said Romney compared to 44 percent who said Obama. In evaluating which candidate shared personal values Romney had 47 percent to Obama's 44 percent, and in honesty/trustworthiness Romney had 46 percent to Obama's 44 percent. 

Pollster: Pulse Opinion Research for The Hill

Methodology: 1,000 likely voters were surveyed July 26. The margin of error is 3 percentage points. 

Why it matters: This is worrying for Obama. The Hill notes two areas where he could be in trouble. First in his advertising strategy: "The results may prompt new questions about the effectiveness of the Obama campaign’s effort to characterize Romney as a calculating former corporate executive who has little in common with ordinary voters." Second: "The findings could also raise a red flag for Obama, who analysts say needs to maintain a strong personal connection with voters to balance off his chief political weakness — the economy." As they also note, this poll indicates a major dip from a June USA Today/Gallup poll wherein Obama led in honesty and trustworthiness and values. 

Caveat: Note the margin of error: In the honesty category Romney only leads by two percentage points and the margin of error is 3 points. This is basically a tie. In addition, as The Hill points out, this and the Gallup poll cannot be compared directly because they used different questions and methodology. 

Findings: Of various issues they want the next president to tackle a majority of Americans — 92 percent — think "creating good jobs" is "extremely/very important." Overall "reducing corruption in the federal government" comes in at 87 percent and "reducing the federal budget deficit" comes in at third with 86 percent. "Increasing taxes on wealthy Americans" was least important overall with 49 percent, "dealing with environmental concerns, such as global warming" was just about that at 52 percent. 

Pollster: USA Today/Gallup

Methodology: 1,030 adults aged 18 and older living in all 50 states and D.C. were interviewed via telephone between July 19 and 22 with a margin of error of +/-4 percent. 

Why it matters: According to Gallup: "The candidate who Americans think has the better plans on each of these issues will have an advantage. As of now, Americans believe Romney is better able to handle jobs and the deficit than Obama is. Still, the two candidates remain locked in a tight race, with voters' presidential preferences evenly divided." Places like The HillThe Washington Examinerand NPR agree that there's some bad news for Obama here. Some of the topics he has been focusing on — like taxes on the wealthy — linger near the bottom when it comes to importance. 

Caveat: None that we see. 

Findings: Obama's approval rating is at 50 percent in a poll, which shows him leading Romney 50 percent to 46 percent.

Pollster: Democracy Corps 

Methodology: 700 likely voters were surveyed between July 21 and July 25. The margin of error, according to The Hill is 3.7 percentage points.

Why it matters: The approval rating signals an improvement for the president. According to The Hill: "The president is buoyed in the poll by some of his strongest approval ratings in recent months."

Caveat: For one, Democracy Corps leans Democratic. Also, Talking Points Memo's PollTracker Average shows his approval rate at 46.8 percent.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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