Romney Ties Obama Among Likely Women Voters in Swing States

Republican nominee Mitt Romney has pulled even with President Barack Obama among women voters in a survey that shows the former Massachusetts governor leading by four points in 12 swing states.

The USA Today/Gallup poll gave Romney a 50 percent to 46 percent lead among likely voters in the 12 swing states. Romney led 54 percent to 42 percent among men likely to go to the polls and was tied at 48 percent among likely women voters in states that strategists in both parties say will decide who wins the White House on Nov. 6. Both candidates are focusing on the battleground states during the final weeks of the campaign.

The findings mirrored a Pew Research Center survey taken Oct. 4-7, which found a tie between Obama and Romney among likely women voters as it put the Republican nominee ahead overall, 49 percent to 45 percent.

Romney Rolls in Rural Vote That May Provide Swing-State Margins

Obama’s pollster, Joel Benenson, questioned today’s USA Today/Gallup survey. The campaign released a memo from Benenson that called it “an extreme outlier, defying the trends in every other battleground and national poll.”

Benenson said the result “underscores deep flaws” in the way Gallup identifies likely voters. He said the poll “appears to not even provide an accurate reflection on the electorate today, making its value questionable.”

Frank Newport, editor-in-chief of the Gallup poll, said such comments are to be expected.

Polarized Environment

“In our highly polarized environment, both campaigns have a war-room mentality where they move extremely rapidly to criticize anything that’s not favorable,” Newport said. “We try to do our very best to be scientific and neutral, which we are, but we expect that people will come at you. That’s the nature of the game.”

The poll of 869 likely voters in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin was conducted Oct. 5- 11 and had margins of error from plus or minus four to six percentage points.

Obama’s appeal to women voters has been predicated in part on the candidates’ positions on social issues.

Romney has called for eliminating federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Three percent of its patient visits in 2010 were abortion related, and health-related issues accounted for 63 percent. His running mate, Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, has voted to cut off federal contraceptive funding for low-income women and co-sponsored legislation to limit federal funds for abortions to victims of “forcible rape.”

Republicans say the economy, not social issues, will decide the presidential election.

ABC News/Post Poll

A national ABC News/Washington Post poll released today had Obama ahead among likely voters, 49 percent to 46 percent, showing the race remained unchanged since before the first debate between the two candidates.

Obama had a 49 percent to 47 percent advantage in an ABC/Post poll conducted Sept. 26-29, before the first debate on Oct. 3 in Denver. The two men meet again tomorrow night in Hempstead, New York.

Other surveys have shown Romney narrowing his deficit or leading Obama since the initial debate. The Oct. 8-14 Gallup national tracking poll of likely voters has Romney ahead, 49 percent to 47 percent. Among registered voters, Obama leads, 48 percent to 46 percent; he was ahead, 50 percent to 45 percent, among this sample group Oct. 3-9. The tracking polls have margins of error of plus or minus two percentage points.

Economic Trust

The ABC/Post poll gave Obama a one-point lead, 48 percent to 47 percent, on who was more trusted to handle the economy, while Romney was ahead by eight points, 51 percent to 43 percent, on dealing with the federal deficit. Obama was ahead by 13 points, 54 percent to 41 percent, on handling Medicare.

Ryan is the author of House Republican-passed legislation to replace Medicare, when those younger than 55 become eligible for the program, with vouchers to buy either private insurance or a government plan with a cap on expenditures.

Likely voters said Obama better understood the nation’s economic problems by 51 percent to 42 percent for Romney. Fifty- two percent gave the president credit for helping move the unemployment rate below 8 percent, and 68 percent said he would favor the middle class while 57 percent said Romney would favor the wealthy.

The survey of 923 likely voters had a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan D. Salant in Washington at jsalant@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jeanne Cummings at jcummings21@bloomberg.net.

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