President Barack Obama maintains his national lead over Mitt Romney – on the eve of the first presidential debate – but the Republican challenger is well within striking distance, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.
Obama edges Romney by only 3 points among 1,000 likely voters surveyed Sept. 26-30, 49 to 46 percent, which is within the survey’s margin of error.
Two weeks ago, Obama’s lead was 5 points, 50 to 45 percent, in the NBC/WSJ poll released two weeks ago, following the political conventions.
But among a wider pool of registered voters, the president is ahead of Romney by 7 points, 51 to 44 percent.
Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart, who conducted this survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff, argues that the poll results contain good news for both candidates.
For Obama, he’s ahead at a time of growing optimism about the economy and nation’s direction. For Romney, it’s a “margin of error” contest that comes as interest in the upcoming election lags among key Democratic constituencies over four years ago.
But Hart adds, “Barack Obama has the better hand.”
Indeed, the poll also shows the effect the past month has taken on Romney, with a majority of registered voters saying that the events of the last couple of weeks had given them a less favorable impression of the Republican challenger.
What’s more, by a 2-to-1 margin, these voters have a negative reaction to Romney’s comment – secretly caught on tape from a May fundraiser in Florida – that “47 percent” of Americans are dependent on government and believe they are victims.
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