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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Polls Show Voters Divided Ahead of Debate


Before the first debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney on Wednesday night, a fresh batch of polls measuring support for the candidates and their policies shows a closely divided nation.

An NBC/Wall Street Journal national poll released Tuesday showed voters were divided over which candidate was better prepared to create jobs and improve the economy, by far the most important issue in deciding how to vote, and a central topic in the debate tonight. However, more voters said that Mr. Obama is better prepared to lead the country for the next four years.

In the overall match-up, the NBC/WSJ poll showed Mr. Obama with a 3-point advantage among likely voters over Mr. Romney, a difference within the poll's margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

In Quinnipiac University's national poll, also released Tuesday, about 9 in 10 voters said they planned to wat ch the debates, but nearly the same number said they did not expect the candidates to say anything that would change their minds. The poll showed Mr. Obama with 49 percent of support among likely voters, compared with 45 percent for Mr. Romney.

In Ohio, Mr. Obama has an 8-point lead among likely voters, according to a new NBC/Marist/Wall Street Journal poll, driven in part by strong support among women and young voters, and a small edge among independents.

In the swing states of Florida and Virginia, the race is more competitive, according to the NBC/Marist/Wall Street Journal poll. In Virginia, Mr. Obama received the backing of 48 percent of likely voters, compared with 46 percent who support Mr. Romney. In Florida, the race is nearly even. Voters in Virginia and Florida were divided over which candidate would better handle the economy, but Mr. Obama held a slim advantage on foreign policy.

The Heartland Monitor Poll, conducted by Allstate and National Jou rnal, found that nearly half of Americans said they were better off because Mr. Obama had won the 2008 election, while 4 in 10 said they would have been better off under someone else. Three-quarters said they've been able to get ahead financially over the course of their lives, but about the same number said it was harder to do so today than in previous generations.

While nearly 6 in 10 said the economy will improve over the next 12 months, Americans were divided over which candidate has the experience and skills needed to steer the economy. More said that Mr. Obama would better support policies that would benefit people like themselves, as well as promote opportunities for all Americans and for future generations.

Conducted nearly two weeks ago, the Heartland poll found 50 percent of likely voters supporting Mr. Obama and 43 percent supporting Mr. Romney.

In a new national survey of Hispanics conducted by CNN/ORC, Latinos said that Mr. Obama would do bette r on a number of issues by a large margin over Mr. Romney, including the economy (40 points), immigration (54 points) and education (57 points). Seven in 10 likely Hispanic voters said they would support Mr. Obama, compared with about a quarter who said they would support Mr. Romney.