President Obama holds a 4-percentage-point lead over Republican challenger Mitt Romney in a new Quinnipiac University poll released early on Tuesday. The results are consistent with other recent surveys showing a slender advantage for Obama prior to the first debate between the two candidates on Wednesday night.
Obama leads Romney, 49 percent to 45 percent, among likely voters, the poll shows, with 2 percent choosing another candidate and 4 percent undecided. The poll is Quinnipiac's first national survey in nearly three months and its first of likely voters. As a result, it should not be compared to polls of registered voters.
The results are in line with other public surveys released this week. A new CNN/ORC International poll on Monday showed Obama 3 points ahead, and Obama led by 2 points in separate surveys from ABC News/Washington Post and Politico-George Washington University, also released on Monday. The latest seven-day Gallup tracking poll shows Obama leading by 4 points.
The polls are also consistent in their portrayal of each candidate's share of the vote. Obama is at 49 or 50 percent in each poll, while Romney's vote share ranges from 45 to 47 percent.
In the Quinnipiac poll, Obama wins 94 percent of Democrats, while Romney captures 91 percent of Republicans. Self-identified independents are split nearly down the middle, with 47 percent for Romney and 45 percent for Obama.
Romney holds a healthy lead among men, 52 percent to 42 percent. But women favor Obama by a larger, 18-point margin, 56 percent to 38 percent.
Romney also leads Obama among white voters, 53 percent to 42 percent. But his margin among whites lags behind Sen. John McCain's in 2008, when the Arizona Republican won them, 55 percent to 43 percent. Obama wins 94 percent of African-Americans.
Obama's "current standing among whites tracks his earlier winning performance," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "If the president can match or exceed his 2008 showing among whites, it will be difficult to impossible for Romney to win."
Among whites, there are clear divides along gender and education lines. White men overwhelmingly favor Romney, 59 percent to 35 percent, while white women tilt to Obama, 49 percent to 46 percent. Obama also holds a slight edge among white voters with a college degree, 50 percent to 45 percent. But noncollege white voters favor Romney by a wide margin, 57 percent to 36 percent. The 14-point gap for Obama between college and noncollege white voters is twice the difference recorded in the 2008 exit poll.
On other measures, Obama has a slight advantage. Half of likely voters have a favorable impression of him, more than the 47 percent who view him unfavorably. Romney's favorable rating is just 45 percent, with 48 percent holding an unfavorable opinion.
Romney has lost his advantage on the economy. Now, just as many voters say they think Obama would do a better job on the economy, 48 percent, as say Romney would, 47 percent. Obama also has higher ratings than Romney on health care, national security, and handling an international crisis. Romney does hold the edge on handling the budget deficit, 52 percent to 42 percent.
As in the ABC News/Washington Post poll, voters think Obama is more likely than Romney to win the upcoming debates by a nearly 2-to-1 ratio, 54 percent to 28 percent. But only 11 percent of voters say the candidates are likely to say or do anything that would change their minds.
Quinnipiac polled 1,912 likely voters from Sept. 25 to 30. The margin of error is plus-or-minus 2.2 percentage points.