Mitt Romney has inched ahead of President Barack Obama in the key battleground state of Ohio, after the president has led there for several months, a new Rasmussen Poll shows.
The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Ohio Voters shows Romney with 46 percent support to Obama’s 44 percent. Six percent like some other candidate and 5 percent remain undecided.
Last month, Obama was ahead of the GOP presidential candidate by 4 percentage points, at 46 percent. In Late March, he was ahead of Romney 48 percent to 40 percent. And in early February, it was Obama 45 percent, Romney 41 percent.
The latest Ohio showing also marks a continuing shift in the four critical states — Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia — with Romney now leading in all four for the first time in Rasmussen Reports surveying this year.
Combined, the “core four” states have 75 Electoral College votes, and if Obama succeeds in all these states, it will be just about impossible for Romney to win the White House.
But if Romney were to win those states, the president’s prospects for re-election would be minimized.
Nationally, Romney and Obama have run within two points of each other for the past two weeks in the daily Presidential Tracking Poll, with the lead seesawing back and forth. On Thursday, for instance, Romney leads with 46 percent of the vote to Obama’s 45 percent.
In 2008, Obama carried the Buckeye State by defeating Arizona GOP nominee John McCain, 52 percent to 47 percent.
Now, 46 percent of Ohio voters said they at least somewhat approve of the job the president is doing, while 54 percent said they disapprove — up 6 points from a month ago. The new findings include 24 percent of Likely Ohio Voters who strongly approve of Obama’s job performance and 42 percent who strongly disapprove, according to the survey.
Meanwhile, the former Massachusetts governor is viewed at least somewhat favorably by 48 percent of Ohio voters, including 17 percent with a very favorable opinion. Fifty percent hold at least a somewhat unfavorable view of Romney, up four points from April and including 27 percent with a very unfavorable regard for him.
In other results, Romney leads by 12 points among male voters, Obama by 7 points among female voters. Most voters under 40 continue to like the president, while their elders prefer the Republican.
Voters not affiliated with either of the major parties, however, said they favored Romney — 47 percent to 35 percent.
But only 37 percent of all Ohio voters surveyed said they were excited about choosing between Obama and Romney — and 55 percent view the election as the choice of the lesser of two evils. That’s a more negative assessment of the race than voters have nationwide.
Otherwise, Obama leads 64 percent to 36 percent among Ohio voters who are excited about the race. Romney is ahead, 53 percent to 32 percent, among those who see the contest as between the lesser of two evils.
Just 15 percent of all Ohio voters see Romney and Obama as the two best candidates for the presidency this year. Sixty-seven percent do not, while 18 percent more said they were not sure.
That well may be in part because most Ohio voters disagree with both candidates on the issues.
Only 38 percent agree, for instance, with Romney on most important issues — while another 6 percent say they agree with him on just about everything.
As for Obama, 31 percent agree with him on most important issues, and 9 percent more agree with him on nearly everything. That’s slightly less agreement with both candidates than voters express nationally.
Sixty-three percent of Ohio voters think the candidates disagree on most important issues, and another 25 percent believe they disagree on just about everything.
Forty-nine percent, however, think Romney would do a better job than Obama in managing the economy. Forty percent say the president would do better.
That’s comparable to findings nationally, though voters in Ohio are less enthusiastic about Romney’s business background: 40 percent see it as primarily a reason to vote for him, while 37 percent say it is a reason to vote against him.
The president leads Romney in Pennsylvania, Nevada, Wisconsin, California and New Mexico. He is nearly tied with his GOP challenger in Florida and Virginia but trails him in Indiana, Missouri, Montana, Arizona, Nebraska and North Carolina.
The Ohio survey of 500 Likely Voters was conducted on May 29 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points with a 95 percent confidence level.
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