By Adelle M. Banks
Religion News Service
WASHINGTON (RNS) Americans consider President Obama to be the smartest and most honest presidential candidate against former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, according to a new poll, but religious groups differ on their views of the candidates' attributes.
The Barna Group polled 1,010 adults on their perceptions of the candidates' honesty, intelligence, philosophy of government and leadership ability.
Obama scored highest on all attributes except leadership. Romney ranked the highest of the three on leadership ability, and outpolled Perry on all four attributes by small margins.
Among evangelicals, Perry scored the highest and Romney scored the lowest, though Romney tied with Obama on leadership skills. Skeptics, on the other hand, rated Obama the highest in all four categories. Catholics overwhelmingly ranked Obama higher than the other two candidates in all four categories.
Asked if Obama should be re-elected "based only on his performance as president," one-third of adults said he deserved re-election while four out of 10 said he did not. Seven out of 10 evangelicals said he didn't deserve re-election; Catholics were evenly divided; and a plurality of skeptics said he should be re-elected.
The findings, released Tuesday (Oct. 4), come at a time when Americans' views of the candidates seem to be shifting.
A Gallup score that measures a candidate's "positive intensity" among party members found that Perry is dropping while pizza magnate Herman Cain's intensity ratings reached a 2011 high. A new CBS poll shows Cain and Romney tied at the top of the Republican presidential field, with Perry losing ground.