Growing support among women voters has pushed Mitt Romney 5 percentage points ahead of President Barack Obama in 12 swing states.
The latest Gallup-USA Today poll
of 1,023 registered voters — including 869 likely voters — surveyed Oct. 5-11 shows that the GOP presidential candidate leads Obama 51 to 46 percent.
Among registered voters, Obama maintains a slight lead, 49 to 47 percent.
With likely women voters, both candidates are tied at 48 percent each — but Romney has a 12-point lead among likely male voters, 54 to 42 percent.
Romney pollster Neil Newhouse told USA Today the poll shows "encouraging movement" in the wake of the first debate in Denver. Obama pollster Joel Benenson calls the method used to identify likely voters flawed.
"In the last election, Gallup's registered voter model — not its likely voter model — was a much more accurate predictor, with their likely model missing the mark in 2010 by 9 points right before the election," Benenson says. "That explains why Gallup's results are way out of line with a dozen recent swing state polls that show the president with a double-digit lead among women."
Romney's standing among female voters is "likely to cause major consternation among Obama supporters," Richard Eichenberg, a Tufts University political scientist, told USA Today. "If Mr. Romney has tied President Obama among women in swing states, then he has likely taken a step toward winning the election.
"But a word of caution is necessary," Eichenberg adds. "Although swing states share many similarities, President Obama's support among women is holding up well in some of them and less well in others. For example, his support among women is largely unchanged since the first debate in Ohio and Wisconsin, but it is definitely down in Colorado, Virginia and Florida."
Other national surveys have shown Obama having a large lead among women voters. In Gallup's national survey, the president remains ahead of Romney, 52 to 44 percent.
The swing-state poll surveyed voters in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
The margin of error is plus or minus four to six percent.
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