After pounding Mitt Romney on taxes and wealth for weeks, ABC touted a new poll on Monday finding that the Republican is "struggling on this key issue of taxes," according to co-host George Stephanopoulos. Reporter Jake Tapper trumpeted this result: "And the more that the American people hear about Mitt Romney, the more they don't like."
He added, "They heard about Romney paying only that 15 percent rate, which is all he's legally required to pay when it comes to investments and they don't like it." Stephanopoulos helpfully forecasted that the "White House is going to continue to drive that." Of course, it was ABC who drove this class warfare angle. On January 24th , Jon Karl sneered, "So, just how rich is Mitt Romney and is he paying his fair share of taxes?"
On February 2 , GMA played up Romney's "poor" gaffe, repeating it three times in less than three minutes.
The new poll was produced in coordination with the Washington Post. The question that Tapper referred to, that the more Americans hear about Romney, the more they dislike him, was worded this way :
Regardless of who you may support, would you say that the more you hear about [ITEM] (the more you like him), or the more you hear about [ITEM] (the less you like him)?
The result came back 24 percent liking Romney more and 52 percent less. However, Ed Morrissey at Hot Air  reported that the Post and ABC have ended their practice of explaining the partisan breakdown of their polls:
More importantly, though, the poll series has dropped its reporting of partisan identification within their samples. It's the second time that the poll has not included the D/R/I split in its sample report, and now it looks as though this will be policy from this point forward. Since this is a poll series that has handed double-digit partisan advantages to Democrats in the past (for instance, this poll from April 2011 where the sample only had 22% Republicans), it's not enough to just hear 'trust us' on sample integrity from the Washington Post or ABC.
One cannot determine whether Obama's improvement in this series is a result of the State of the Union speech, as Dan Balz and Jon Cohen suggest, or whether it's due to shifting the sample to favor Democrats more so than in previous samples. The same is true for the Post's report that Obama 'for the first time has a clear edge' over Romney head-to-head. One would need a poll of registered or likely voters to actually make that claim (one has to register to cast a vote, after all), and one would need to see the difference in partisan splits between this and other surveys in the series to determine whether the movement actually exists or got manufactured by the pollste
A transcript of the February 6 segment can be found below:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Now to politics. Your voice, your vote. And with his biggest win yet in the Nevada caucuses this weekend, Mitt Romney has secured his hold on the Republican nomination. But a new ABC News/Washington Post poll out this morning shows he has his work cut out for him against President Obama. For the first time, the President has opened up a clear lead against Romney. 51, 45. And ABC's Jake Tapper is here with me to dig into the numbers. President Obama has also hit 50 percent in his job approval rating for the first time since Osama bin Laden was killed. But the internal numbers in the polls show he's in something with a death match with Romney on this big issue of the economy?
JAKE TAPPER: He is. It's a fascinating poll because it shows both the strengths and weaknesses that both candidates have, the President and Mitt Romney, should he be the nominee. President Obama still under 50 percent when it comes to handling the economy. And Mitt Romney, even though he trails Obama in this poll, is trusted more to handle the economy by a narrow margin, 48 to 45. And when it comes to trusting to create jobs, the same thing, 47, 45. Romney with a slight margin, within the margin of error, showing how competitive this is.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And voters really value Romney's business experience by a very wide margin, but he is struggling on this key issue of taxes.
TAPPER: That's right. This is an economic indicator, a leading economic indicator in terms of polls, who do you trust to handle taxes? Who do you trust to handle taxes? President Obama up ten points, 52 to 42 when Democrats are leading on this issue, they win in November. When they're trailing, they lose. And here's one of the reasons, George. Look at this number: This is, is Romney paying his fair share in taxes? 66 percent of the American people say no. They heard about Romney paying only that 15 percent rate, which is all he's legally required to pay when it comes to investments and they don't like it. And the more that the American people hear about Mitt Romney, the more they don't like.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And the White House is going to continue to drive that. But, they're not taking anything for granted here?
TAPPER: They're taking nothing for granted. They know this is probably another valley ahead. But this is going to be a very tight race, assuming Romney is the nominee.
STEPHANOPOULOS: No matter what. Jake Tapper, thanks very much.