Three weeks before election, White House race remains tight

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Featured Image : White House- Wikipedia Commons

WASHINGTON, Oct 15 : President Brack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney remain locked in a virtual dead heat, with Republicans showing increased enthusiasm for their nominee after his boosting performance in the first presidential debate, a new poll says.

Released on the eve of the second presidential debate –expected to focus on foreign policy- the new Washington PostABC News pollfinds that likely voters in the new poll split 49 percent for Obama to 46 percent for Romney.The voters remain basically unmoved from the poll two weeks ago, just before the two candidates met in Denverfor their first debate.The Post reported that on topic after topic, the survey portrays an electorate that remains deeply divided along partisan lines and locked in its views, about three weeks from November 6 election.

Nearly two-thirds say they do not need any more information before Election Day, and barely one in eight is undecided or says there is a chance he could change his vote.

Even as voters overwhelmingly perceive that Romney won the first debate, the vast majority says their opinion of the president did not shift as a result.

But more people changed their views of Romney, largely in a positive direction. Overall, more than twice as many say their opinions of the former Massachusetts governor improved than say they worsened as a result of the debate.

The strongest reaction is among Romney backers, 70 percent of whom say Denver made them think more highly of the GOP nominee.

Fewer of his supporters now express anxiety about a Romney administration, and the number of his backers saying they support him “very enthusiastically” jumped by double digits.

Meanwhile, enthusiasm for the president has also ticked higher, but it remains below where it was four years ago. Of course, at this time in October 2008, Obama held a 10-percentage-point lead over his Republican rival senator John McCain. In the new poll, a three-point edge does not represent a statistically significant advantage.

But beyond enthusiasm, Obama lags behind 2008 in assembling a winning coalition because groups of voters highly likely to back his candidacy — including Democrats, non-whites and younger voters — are far less interested in the campaign this time around.

The president is buoyed in the final stretch by improving attitudes about the direction of the country, although his fellow Democrats are the ones becoming more sanguine. Among all voters, 42 percent now say the country is headed in the right direction, yet another tick upward, and 13 percentage points higher than before the party conventions. Still, most — 56 percent — see things as pretty seriously on the wrong track.

According to the Post, Obama gets some credit — but little from Republicans — for one recent sign of improvement in the economy: the drop in the unemployment rate to 7.8 percent in September, breaking a record 43-month stretch above 8 percent. A slim majority of voters give him at least some credit for the decline, but less than one in four says he should get “a lot” of credit for it. Most Republicans, however, give him no credit at all for this, reflecting the big partisan divide on all matters.

The slip in the unemployment rate had no meaningful effect on voters’ views of Obama’s stewardship of the economy: 47 percent of all voters continue to approve of the job he is doing on the issue, and 51 percent disapprove. Majorities have consistently given the president negative reviews on the economy, going back more than two years.

A challenge for Obama and Romney is that voters remain unconvinced that either candidate, if elected, would be able to quickly turn around the economy. Head-to-head on the matter, 48 percent of all voters say they trust Obama to deal with the economy, and 44 percent side with Romney. Among likely voters, it’s an even narrower divide: 48 to 47 percent.

SOURCES: MGCT, The Washington Post, ABC News, Wikipedia

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