Republican challenger Mitt Romney has pulled closer to President Barack Obama in two key swing states — Florida and Virginia — as he finished preparations for tonight’s first presidential debate.
The NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist College survey of likely voters Sept. 30-Oct. 1 shows Obama only marginally ahead in Florida, by 47 percent to 46 percent, and in Virginia, by 48 percent to 46 percent — statistical ties within the margin of error. Obama had been leading by five points in both states in the Sept. 9-11 NBC/Journal/Marist poll.
In Ohio, without which a Republican has never won the presidency, Obama led by 51 percent to 43 percent among likely voters. He was ahead, 50 percent to 43 percent, in last month’s poll
Romney has gained in Florida and Virginia among likely women voters. In Florida, Obama led, 48 percent to 45 percent among women, down from a 12-point advantage last month. Men backed Romney, 47 percent to 46 percent, after supporting him, 49 percent to 45 percent in September.
Women in Virginia backed Obama, 52 percent to 44 percent, down from 54 percent to 40 percent in September. Romney led among men, 48 percent to 45 percent, compared with a 49 percent to 44 percent advantage the previous month.
In Ohio, where Obama retained his lead, he drew the support of 56 percent of women voters surveyed, compared with 39 percent for Romney. In September, Obama’s advantage was 54 percent to 38 percent. The Republican former governor of Massachusetts led among men, 48 percent to 46 percent, unchanged from a month ago.A
Nationally, a Sept. 26-30 NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey gave Obama a 49 percent to 46 percent lead among likely voters, down from his 50 percent to 45 percent advantage in a comparable survey two weeks ago.
One reason Obama may be in the lead: Registered voters said the economy was recovering, 57 percent to 39 percent, and would improve in the next 12 months by 44 percent to 13 percent, with 35 percent saying it would not change. On the question of which candidate would better handle the economy, one point separated the two nominees, with Romney at 43 percent and Obama 42 percent.
One reason the race is close: Forty percent of registered voters said the U.S. was on the right track and 53 percent said the country was heading in the wrong direction. Still, that’s the highest positive level since 42 percent expressed optimism in July 2009.