Poll: Romney Closing in on Obama

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Oct. 20 2012 4:41 PM

Romney Closing in on Obama as Final Debate Approaches

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Poll shows the presidential race is tightening

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

As the candidates feverishly prepare for the third and final televised debate, the contest between Mitt Romney and President Obama appears to be tightening. The latest Reuters/Ipsos online poll has Obama up one percentage point among likely voters, with 46 percent saying they would vote to reelect the president while 45 percent favor the former Massachusetts governor. On Friday, Obama enjoyed a three-percentage point lead over Romney, notes Reuters. Although most viewers thought Obama won the second debate, it seems he didn’t get a noticeable bounce, according to Ipsos pollster Julia Clark.

At the state level, polls continue to show a tight race as well. In Florida, 48 percent of likely voters say they back Romney, while 45 percent support Obama, according to a Fox News poll. On Friday, a CNN/ORC International poll of likely Florida voters gave Romney an advantage of one percentage point with 49 percent saying they would back the former governor. Fox News found a similar split in Ohio, with 46 percent backing Obama and 43 percent supporting Romney, noting it marks a big decrease in support for the president who led by seven percentage points a month ago.  And the Hill reports on a new Public Policy Polling survey released Saturday that shows President Obama leading by two percentage points in Virginia, which conflicts with a Rasmussen poll that found Romney had a three-percentage-point lead over Obama.

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Although most polls show a dead heat between Obama and Romney nationally, there is one key exception: Gallup. Among likely voters, Romney holds a six percentage point lead, and no one quite understands why, reports Reuters. The difference between Gallup’s numbers and all the rest is particularly astounding if you consider that the polling firm has been doing this for a long time and is widely respected. Gallup has correctly predicted all but three of 19 presidential races since 1936 but this time even the experts aren’t quite sure what to think.

"They're just so out of kilter at the moment," one polling expert tells Reuters. "Either they're doing something really wacky or the other 18 pollsters out there are colluding, or something."

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.