A new Pew Research Center Poll shows President Obama with a narrow 49 percent to 45 percent lead over likely Republican nominee Mitt Romney, results that are in line with another national survey this week showing the two starting the general election race on a more or less even playing field.
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Obama and Romney were tied in a statistical dead heat in Gallup's inaugural daily tracking poll published on Monday. The Gallup poll, which began on April 11 and will be reported daily on Gallup.com on the basis of continuous five-day rolling averages, showed Romney with 47 percent and Obama with 45 percent.
Also on Monday, a CNN/ORC International poll showed Obama starting the race with a 9-point advantage over Romney, 52 percent to 43 percent. The Pew poll had Obama with a similar edge last month; the president was ahead by 12 points, but the difference has narrowed considerably since then.
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The economy still swamps all other issues with voters in the Pew poll, with 86 percent of respondents ranking it as very important in deciding who to vote for; job creation followed closely at 84 percent. The Pew survey found that neither Obama nor Romney had a clear advantage with these voters: Those who said the economy and jobs will be very important in their decision divided their support almost evenly between the two.
About three-fourths of the registered voters surveyed – 74 percent – said the federal deficit and health care are issues that will be very important factors in their presidential-voting decision, while 72 percent identified education as decisive. Hot-button social issues ranked near the bottom: Only 28 percent said that gay marriage is a very important factor and just 34 percent rated birth control as a top issue.
Health care and education voters favored Obama by double-digits in the poll. Those who ranked the federal budget deficit as a top priority favored Romney, 57 percent to 38 percent. The Republican was also the preferred candidate among those who ranked dealing with Iran as very important, while Obama was preferred by those who cited environmental issues.
This latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press was conducted April 4-15, among 3,008 adults, including 2,373 registered voters. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.1 percentage points for the full sample group and plus or minus 2.3 points for registered voters.