The latest election poll of small business owners shows Mitt Romney with a significant advantage, but the president is quickly gaining ground.

The president leads in swing states as the campaign enters its final month. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

Despite Romney’s lead, more than half of those surveyed (56 percent) believe the president will win a second term in office.

“Small business owners have been clamoring for their voices to be heard during this election,” Pamela Springer, Manta’s chief executive, said in a statement. “It’s well past time for the candidates to provide concrete plans about the issues SMBs have consistently cared about this year– healthcare, tax policies and access to credit.”

For the poll, Manta surveyed more than 1,800 business owners in late September, prior to the president’s lackluster performance in the first of three debates. The latest finding come closer to mirroring similar polls taken in the last month, which show Obama with the lead among small business owners and super-small business owners.

The nation’s smallest employers are starting to see a more favorable outlook for their businesses and the economy as a whole, which could be benefitting the president. Earlier this week, a collection of small business groups released a survey showing that more than two thirds of micro-business owners (10 employees or fewer) believe their firms will fair well over the next couple years, compared to just 3 percent who think their businesses are heading in the wrong direction.

The latest nationwide polls show Obama and Romney locked in a tight race, but the president has opened up a signicant lead in the most closely contested states, particularly Florida, Ohio and Virginia. The candidates still have two debates remaining, starting next Tuesday.

On Thursday evening, attention turns to the vice presidential candidates, as Joe Biden and Paul Ryan take the stage in Kentucky for their only spar. Check back to On Small Business on Friday morning for coverage of the debate and their arguments on the issues that matter most to entrepreneurs and small business owners.

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