(Graph via Gallup.com)
With six months to go before Election Day, a new poll finds Mitt Romney in a dead heat with President Barack Obama in 12 key political battleground states.
A USA Today/Gallup poll of 12 expected swing states—Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin—finds Obama leading Romney by just two points among registered voters, 47 percent to 45 percent. The results are well within the poll's plus or minus 4 percent margin of error.
That's a major difference from the same poll conducted in late March, when Obama held a 9-point lead over Romney among battleground state voters.
On the question of who would best handle the economy, Romney holds a clear lead over Obama. Sixty percent say Romney would do a "good" or "very good" job handling the economy over the next four years, compared to 52 percent for Obama, according to Gallup.
But Obama still has a key advantage over Romney when it comes to connecting with voters. Fifty-eight percent view the president as "likable," compared to only 31 percent for Romney. Asked which candidate "cares about the needs of people like you," Obama had a 10-point lead over Romney, 50 percent to 40 percent.
While the race has tightened since Romney unofficially claimed his party's nomination, there are still warning signs for the GOP ticket. The poll found that Democratic voters are more enthusiastic about the general election than Republicans—a shift from earlier this year.
According to Gallup, 55 percent of those supporting Obama say they are "extremely" or "very enthusiastic" about November's election, compared to 46 percent of voters backing Romney. That's a 9-point drop in enthusiasm among Romney supporters since January and a 5-point gain among Obama backers.
In a conference call with reporters, Jim Messina, Obama's campaign manager, touted the enthusiasm numbers as the "most telling" results of the poll and a "real" sign of an increasingly "fired up Democratic base."
"People are not that excited about Gov. Romney," Messina said, describing it as an "advantage" for the president's re-election efforts.
A separate poll conducted by Politico and George Washington University found Romney and Obama statistically tied among likely voters nationwide, 48 percent to 47 percent—well within the poll's 3.1 percent margin of error.
But there were warning signs for Obama: According to Politico, Romney held a 10-point lead over self-described independent voters, an important voting bloc this fall, and a 6-point advantage over voters who said they were most likely to turn out at the polls this November.
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