WaPo Poll: Obama Pulling Ahead in Swing States

Monday, 01 Oct 2012 06:37 AM

By Martin Gould

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Mitt Romney is holding his own nationally against President Barack Obama, but is slipping behind in the key swing states that will decide next month’s election, a new Washington Post/ABC News poll, released Monday.

While the two candidates for the White House are in a statistical dead heat when all likely voters are counted, the president has built up an 11-percentage point lead in the states which will really count, the Post reports.

Florida and Ohio are seen as particularly bad news for the Republican challenger, the paper says.

The two men are pouring millions into the swing states — the poll found that one-in-three voters there have heard directly from both campaigns — and Obama’s message seems to be resonating more, the Post reports.

However, ABC in its interpretation of the results, says that the Romney is starting to reach voters. “In late August, 31 percent of Obama’s supporters said they’d been contacted by his campaign, while just 18 percent of Romney’s backers said they’d heard from their candidate. Today Obama’s outreach number is essentially the same, while Romney’s has advanced, virtually to parity.”

With the result of the poll, the pressure mounts even more on Romney to turn in the performance of his life in Wednesday’s debate, the first of three times that the two men will face off in the run up to Election Day.

But the poll shows that voters, by “a wide margin” expect Obama to put on the better show in Denver. A total of 56 percent believe Obama will win the debate with only 29 percent saying Romney will.

And that translates into how viewers believe the election will go, with 63 percent saying they believe Obama will win and only 31 percent saying they think Romney will be the president come January.

ABC says that could cut both ways. “Among Obama’s supporters, 96 percent expect him to win – raising the risk that some will feel secure enough not to bother turning out. Among Romney’s, at the same time, 28 percent pick Obama to win – suggesting the possibility they’ll be demotivated.”

Likely voters throughout the country give Obama a 49-47 percent lead, within the poll’s 3.5-point margin of error.

The poll does have some positive news for the Romney campaign. A slim majority now see his wealth as a positive rather than a drawback, and the Post reports there has been “a big jump” in the number of people who believe he pays his fair share of taxes. After he revealed his 2010 returns earlier this year, 66 percent thought he did not pay enough. That figure now stands at 48 percent.

Romney is also winning the argument that more Americans should pay at least some income tax.

But the Post reports, “Obama continues to hold double-digit advantages when it comes to being the more friendly and likable of the two, and also as the candidate more voters trust on social issues, women’s issues and terrorism. He maintains a big lead when it comes to empathizing with people facing economic problems. And he has a 10-point edge when it comes to handling ‘an unexpected major crisis.’ “

The poll was conducted between Wednesday and Saturday last week among 1,101 likely voters nationwide.

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