President Obama remains in a virtual tie with Mitt Romney in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll released early Monday, but the incumbent has ticked up on many measures, including earning his highest approval rating for handling the economy in more than two years.
Wednesday's debate, however, provides opportunities and potential pitfalls for both candidates, the poll shows, with voters saying by a nearly 2-to-1 margin that Obama will win the series of three debates.
Obama leads Romney among likely voters, 49 percent to 47 percent, the poll shows. Two percent prefer neither candidate, and just 1 percent are undecided. The result is virtually unchanged from the previous ABC News/Washington Post poll, conducted immediately after the two party conventions, which showed Obama leading, 49 percent to 48 percent.
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Among the broader universe of registered voters, Obama holds a 5-point advantage, 49 percent to 44 percent. That includes a 10-point lead among female voters. Men are split essentially down the middle.
Independents are divided evenly as well; among registered voters, Democrats held a 5-point party-ID advantage in the poll, but that gap narrows to just 3 percentage points among likely voters.
The Washington Post reported that Obama leads in "swing states," 52 percent to 41 percent. The "swing states" included by Washington Post are Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Each candidate faces challenges in turning out their supporters on Election Day, the poll shows. Young voters are less likely than they were in 2008 to say they likely will vote, and fully 96 percent of Obama voters say they think Obama will win the election. But, overall, 63 percent of voters -- including 26 percent of Romney supporters -- say they think Obama will win; the leader on this measure has gone on to win every election since 1984.
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The poll was conducted Sept. 26-29, surveying 929 registered voters and 813 likely voters. For the overall sample of registered voters, the margin of error is plus-or-minus 3.5 percentage points. For the horse-race result among likely voters, the margin of error is plus-or-minus 4 percentage points.