Obama and Romney in Exceedingly Close Race, Poll Finds - New York Times
COLUMBUS, Ohio President Obama and Mitt Romney enter the closing week of the campaign in an exceedingly narrow race, according to the latest poll by The New York Times and CBS News, with more voters now viewing Mr. Romney as a stronger leader on the economy and Mr. Obama as a better guardian of the middle class.
The president is holding his coalition together with strong support from women and minority voters and is supported by 48 percent of likely voters nationwide, the poll found, while Mr. Romney holds a wide advantage among independents and men and is the choice of 47 percent.
The race for the White House, which has been interrupted by the aftermath of Hurricane Sandys deadly assault on the East Coast, is heading toward an uncertain conclusion. The president was set to stay off the campaign trail for a third straight day to tour storm damage on Wednesday with Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, a Republican. Mr. Romney was set to resume a full schedule in Florida.
In the final days, the most intense competition between Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney has narrowed to seven states, but the national poll illustrates why the Romney campaign is working to expand the battleground and seize upon the deep concern in the electorate about whether the president should win a second term.
The economy continues to be the overwhelming issue on the minds of voters, with about three-quarters selecting the economy as either their first or second most important concern. Another 23 percent named the budget deficit as one of their top two issues. Most voters consider Mr. Romney the better candidate to deal with both of those challenges.
The president has a slight edge on terrorism and foreign policy, but the poll found that Mr. Romney may have made some inroads with his strong critique of how Mr. Obama managed the Libya crisis after the killing of the American ambassador and three others in Benghazi. When asked specifically about the administrations handling of the attacks on the consulate in Libya, the poll found that only 38 percent of voters approved and 51 percent disapproved.
A week before the election, even as millions of Americans have already cast their ballots through early-voting programs in many states, voters are closely divided between the candidates, with men and women practically mirror images of each other. The poll found that Mr. Obama is supported by 52 percent of women and 44 percent of men, while Mr. Romney is preferred by 51 percent of men and 44 percent of women.
Throughout the campaign, most voters have given Mr. Obama the advantage over Mr. Romney when asked which candidate understands their needs and problems. And even more see Mr. Obama as the candidate who appreciates the issues faced by working women. Two-thirds of voters, both men and women, said Mr. Obama understands the problems of women in the work force, while 46 percent said the same about Mr. Romney.
But slightly more voters describe Mr. Romney as a strong leader than they do Mr. Obama.
As Mr. Romney seeks to emphasize the moderate elements of his record, the poll found that voters across the country see deep philosophical differences between the two candidates, with 67 percent saying that Mr. Romney would very closely or somewhat closely follow the policies of former President George W. Bush.
Since becoming the Republican presidential nominee, Mr. Romney has become more moderate, according to 33 percent of voters, while 18 percent said he has moved more to the right. Among those who say Mr. Romneys positions have become more moderate, 42 percent still say he is too conservative, 44 percent say his political values are about right and 11 percent say he is not conservative enough.
The poll was conducted in the days before Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast. The telephone interviews were conducted Thursday through Sunday, although they were originally intended to continue through Tuesday evening. Though the survey was cut short by the approaching storm, all numbers in the sample were attempted at least once.
The nationwide survey was conducted by landlines and cellphones to reach 898 adults, of whom 798 said they were registered to vote. The likely voter model includes voting history, attention to the campaign and likelihood of voting. Party identification for likely voters has been adjusted to its average in the two most recent polls by The Times and CBS News. The margin of sampling error for 563 likely voters is plus or minus four percentage points.