With only seven weeks to go in the presidential campaign, Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll
for Saturday shows GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney up by 2 points over President Barack Obama in a nationwide sampling of voters.
Republicans and Democrats agree the election probably will be decided on Obama's jobs-and-economy record. And both campaigns are gearing up for the new week by trying to shift the focus away from the recent attacks on U.S. diplomats and missions in the Middle East.
Romney drew support from 48 percent of voters nationwide in the Rasmussen poll, while President Obama had only 46 percent support. Two percent prefer some other candidate, and 4 percent remained undecided.
“When ‘leaners’ are included, the race is tied at 48 percent,” according to Rasmussen. “Leaners are those who are initially uncommitted to the two leading candidates but lean towards one of them when asked a follow-up question.”
Obama is launching an aggressive effort to convince voters in the most competitive states — Colorado, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, and Virginia — that his economic policies are working and that Romney is risking the nation's recovery with a plan that caters to multimillionaires over the middle class.
"They want to go back to the same old policies that got us in trouble in the first place," former President Bill Clinton is shown saying in the 60-second TV ad.
Romney is trying to get back to the economy, his strength, even as a new national survey by The New York Times and CBS News finds that he has lost his longstanding edge on the question of whom voters view as most likely to restore the economy and create jobs. Voters are feeling slightly more optimistic that the president's policies are helping. Still, that poll and others found the race narrowly divided.
"Beating an incumbent is never easy," Romney told ABC on Friday. He dismissed polls that show Obama ahead. "I'm doing well . . . and this is a campaign which I think will come into focus as the debates occur."
Frustration has been showing in some GOP circles because Romney failed to move ahead of Obama despite months of highlighting the nation's high jobless rate and the millions of dollars spent pushing an economic message on TV. Romney allies have been urging him to find a message that will persuade disillusioned voters to give him a chance. They reject the notion that Romney is careening from topic to topic, despite recent emphases on Medicare and international leadership.
Diverse advice is pouring into Romney's camp: Paint Obama as a weak leader at home and abroad; shift the focus firmly back to the economy; fire up the conservative base; concentrate on the relatively small number of undecided voters.
Some of Romney's associates, including his running mate, say personality, not policy, may hold the key to reassuring wary voters.
"I'm not the only one who has told Mitt that maybe he needs to talk more about himself and his life," Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP's vice presidential nominee, told conservative activists Friday.
The buttoned-down Romney has relatively little time to show a warmer, more assuring side to voters. Three presidential debates in October may offer his best chance.
In the race to reach 270 electoral votes for victory, polls suggest Obama holds slight edges in the crucial states of Ohio, Florida, Virginia and New Hampshire. And internal polling by both campaigns shows close races in Colorado, Iowa and Nevada. Both sides agree that Romney is doing better in North Carolina, which Obama narrowly carried in 2008.
The wild card might be Wisconsin, Ryan's home state, which Obama won by 14 percentage points over Arizona Sen. John McCain. Both campaigns are spending money there. Vice President Joe Biden visited Wisconsin on Thursday, and Obama is scheduled to go this coming week.
Ohio and Florida are the most coveted toss-up states. Romney's election is not assured even if he wins both. But a failure to carry either state would almost surely doom his chances.
Obama leads Romney by a single point in Virginia and Ohio, and he maintains a two-point lead in Florida, according to the Rasmussen poll.
Romney leads the president by six points in North Carolina, and the former Massachusetts governor has also regained a slight lead in Missouri.
Half of the voters say they somewhat disapprove of the of Obama’s job performance while only 49 percent of voters say they at least somewhat approve of his job performance.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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