Voters’ preferences on the economy are little changed from two surveys last month, and there has been only isolated movement across other issues tested in the new poll. Obama continues to hold the edge when it comes to being in touch with the economic problems people are having in the country and when it comes to being seen as the more friendly and likable of the two candidates.
As before, Romney does not have statistically significant advantages in any of the tested areas — including taxes, international affairs and Medicare. But his eight-percentage-point edge among likely voters when it comes to dealing with the federal budget deficit comes close. (This question was asked of a half-sample of all respondents, with a higher margin of sampling error.)
Nor has anything shifted since the debate in perceptions about whether, as president, Romney would favor the wealthy or the middle class: 58 percent of all voters say his policies would probably favor the wealthy. Most say Obama’s policies favor the middle class, not the wealthy.
The long string of marginal shifts over previous surveys illuminates the high degree of lock-in that characterizes the campaign. After all, 48 percent of likely voters are either definitely supporting Obama or unlikely to change their minds, and 44 percent are as committed to voting for Romney.
The parity — neither Obama nor Romney has had a significant lead in any of the five times The Post and ABC have asked about likely voting — underscores the importance of voter turnout, which party will be more successful at getting out the vote. The closeness of the contest has also persisted even as the partisan makeup of the random polling samples has varied.
Partisan identification fluctuates from poll to poll as basic orientations shift and with the sampling variability that accompanies each randomly selected sample of voters. In the current poll, Democrats outnumber Republicans by nine percentage points among likely voters; the previous three Post-ABC polls had three-, six- and five-percentage-point edges for Democrats. The presidential contest would now be neck and neck nationally with any of these margins.
Overall, 25 percent of all voters say they have been personally contacted by the Obama campaign; 21 percent say this of the Romney campaign. Obama’s side may have the edge in swing states, at least in terms of contacts. About 37 percent of voters in the eight key states — the seven Post “tossup” states plus Ohio — say they’ve heard from an Obama campaign representative in the past month; 27 percent in those states say they have been contacted by one of Romney’s.
State polling across the critical states where both campaigns are focusing their efforts has not changed dramatically since the debate, with Romney picking up mainly a percentage point or so. Those small shifts — statistically insignificant but potentially substantively significant — are also reflected in this new national poll, with the contest tightening on the margin among likely voters across these eight states. The telephone poll was conducted Oct. 10-13 among a random national sample of 1,252 adults. Results for the full sample of 1,063 registered voters are plus or minus 3.5 percentage points; they are also 3.5 points for the 923 likely voters.
Scott Clement and Peyton M. Craighill contributed to this report.