President Obama and Mitt Romney continue to run neck-and-neck among likely voters in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll released early Tuesday, even though Obama leads Romney by the widest margin among registered voters since the spring, the poll shows. The survey suggests that there is a limit to Obama's post-convention bounce among those voters who say they are certain to cast ballots in the November election.
Obama leads Romney among likely voters, 49 percent to 48 percent, well within the margin of error of plus-or-minus 4.5 percentage points for that subsample. Three percent say they prefer neither candidate or are undecided.
Immediately prior to the conventions, Romney led by 2 points among likely voters; the difference between the two polls is statistically insignificant.
Among the wider universe of registered voters, Obama now leads Romney by 6 percentage points, 50 percent to 44 percent. That is Obama's best performance against Romney since early April, when he led by 7 points. Before the conventions, Romney held a slim, 1-point advantage among all voters.
The poll's findings differ from Monday's CNN/ORC International poll, conducted over the same time period. That survey found little change among registered voters, while Obama opened up a slight lead among likely voters. Solely among registered voters, Obama's 6-point lead compares favorably to his 8-point edge in the CNN poll and 5 point lead in the latest Gallup Daily Tracking poll.
Pollsters use different methods for determining which voters are most likely to cast ballots. According to an ABC release, the ABC/Post poll classifies all respondents who say they are registered and describe themselves as "certain" to vote in the general election as likely voters.
Among registered voters in the new poll, Obama leads among men, 48 percent to 45 percent, his best performance among men since ABC and the Post began testing the horse race in April of 2011. Among female voters, Obama leads, 51 percent to 44 percent.
Each candidate wins roughly 90 percent of his own partisans, with independents split nearly down the middle, 48 percent for Romney and 46 percent for Obama. But among independents who say they are certain to vote, Romney opens up a slight edge, capturing 54 percent.
Romney's lead among white voters has diminished to just 11 points, 52 percent to 41 percent. Romney's vote share among whites is a new low in ABC/Post polling.
Pollsters with both news organizations describe Obama as emerging from the conventions with some clear advantages. When voters were asked which candidate they trust to do a better job handling 15 different issues, Obama held significant leads on 8 of those issues, while Romney did not lead significantly on any issue. And for the first time, Obama has opened up a lead on handling the economy, though his 2-point advantage is well within the poll's margin of error.
Obama has opened up a slight, 5-point lead on handling Medicare; in the pre-convention poll, Romney led by 3 points on this issue. Asked which candidate they trust most to advance the interests of the middle class, Obama leads, 53 percent to 38 percent, better than his 6-point edge on this question before the conventions. Obama also leads by 7 points on the issue of taxes, a significant turnaround from last month's 5-point Romney lead.
Similarly, voters are now more likely to say Obama is "the stronger leader." Last month, the president led by just 2 points on this question; now he leads by 8. And Romney did not close the yawning likability gap during the conventions: He trails on the question of who "seems like the more friendly and likable person" by the identical margin he did last month, 61 percent to 27 percent.
Despite his nearly-across-the-board improvement, there are plenty of warning signs for the president. His approval rating among registered voters remains underwater, 48 percent approve, versus 50 percent who disapprove. That is statistically unchanged from prior to the conventions.
Both candidates earn slightly more confidence when it comes to turning the economy around "in the next year or two" after their respective conventions. Voters are split on their confidence in Romney: 49 percent say their "very" or "somewhat" confident, compared to 46 percent who say they same for Obama. But 36 percent are "not confident at all" that Obama would get the economy back on track if he were reelected.
At the conclusion of the survey, voters were also asked to choose between the two candidates on some more lighthearted questions. Half of voters say Obama "would make a more loyal friend," while just 36 percent pick Romney. Similar numbers say they would prefer to have Obama instead of Romney take care of them if they were sick. And 52 percent would rather invite Obama to dinner at their homes, compared to only a third who would host Romney.
But the two candidates run close on which voters would rather have as the captain on a ship in a storm: 46 percent for Obama, and 43 percent for Romney.
The poll was conducted Sept. 7-9, following both party conventions and the release of the August unemployment surveys. There were 826 registered voters -- and 710 likely voters -- for an overall margin of error of plus-or-minus 4 percentage points.
DON'T MISS TODAY'S TOP STORIES