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POLITICO-George Washington University Battleground Poll: Presidential Race is Close with Obama at 49 Percent and Romney at 47 Percent

October 01, 2012

WASHINGTON – The presidential candidates are two points apart with President Obama at 49 percent and Mitt Romney at 47 percent according to a new POLITICO-George Washington University Battleground Poll released today. With a 3.1 percent margin of error, the race remains close. 

“It continues to be a race either side could win,” said Mark Kennedy, director of GW’s Graduate School of Political Management. “The upcoming debates are critical. It is important to keep a close eye on the campaigns in the next few weeks.”

As the candidates prepare for the first debate on Wednesday, the poll examines voters’ views of the candidates and the issues that matter to them most.

President Obama’s job approval rating is divided evenly with 49 percent approval and 49 percent disapproval. Voters’ overall impressions of the candidates themselves are 50 percent favorable and 47 percent unfavorable of President Obama, and 46 percent favorable and 48 percent unfavorable of Mr. Romney.

“The President’s job approval rating is at parity. However, more voters strongly disapprove (43 percent) of his job performance than strongly approve (37 percent),” said Ed Goeas, Republican pollster and president/CEO of The Tarrance Group. “Romney has majority support from demographic groups that he needs to win like men (51 percent), white voters (55 percent), married voters (55 percent), middle class families (56 percent), those extremely likely to vote (49 percent), independents (47 percent), rural voters (53 percent), weekly (54 percent) and monthly (52 percent) church attendees, and battleground state voters (49 percent).

The candidates remain statistically tied on key issues such as the economy (49 percent for Romney and 47 percent for Obama), jobs (48 percent for Romney and 47 percent for Obama), taxes (49 percent for Obama and 46 percent for Romney), sharing your values (48 percent for Obama and 45 percent for Romney) and the ability to get things done (47 percent for Romney and 45 percent for Obama). Romney leads on the federal budget and spending (50 to 43 percent). Obama leads on foreign policy (52 to 40 percent), Medicare (50 to 42 percent), standing up for the middle class (54 to 41 percent) and health care (51 to 43 percent). 

“While the race will be close, President Obama goes into the debates with strong advantages,” said Celinda Lake, Democratic pollster and president of Lake Research Partners. “Voters like Obama better than his opponent, who is patently unpopular among women and blue-collar Americans. Voters also see Obama as a strong leader, especially on foreign policy despite last week’s vitriol, and solidly more on the side of the middle class."

About the POLITICO-George Washington University Battleground Poll
The POLITICO-George Washington University Battleground Poll is a nationally recognized, series of surveys conducted by Republican pollster Ed Goeas of The Tarrance Group and Democratic pollster Celinda Lake of Lake Research Partners. The George Washington University Global Media Institute, affiliated with the Graduate School of Political Management (GSPM) and the School of Media and Public Affairs (SMPA), serves as the university’s home for the partnership. George Washington’s Gelman Library houses the data archive of the survey results dating back more than two decades. The poll, which is distinguished from other surveys by its presentation of separate analyses from these top pollsters representing both sides of the aisle, surveyed 1,000 registered likely voters nationwide Sept. 24 through Sept. 27, 2012 including a protocol for reaching mobile phone users, and yields a margin of error of + 3.1 percent.

Interview Opportunities
Mark Kennedy, director of GW’s Graduate School of Political Management; Celinda Lake, president of Lake Research Partners; and Ed Goeas, President/CEO of The Tarrance Group; are all available for comment.  For Mr. Kennedy, contact Angela Olson at 202-994-3087.  For Ms. Lake, contact Anderson Gardner at Lake Research Partners, 202-776-9066.  For Mr. Goeas, contact Brian Nienaber at The Tarrance Group, 703-684-6688.

For full results from the latest poll go to and