Obama Leads Romney Among Likely Voters in Iowa, Wisconsin

President Barack Obama maintained his lead over Republican challenger Mitt Romney in a poll of likely voters in Iowa and Wisconsin, two states that will help determine the outcome of the U.S. presidential race.

Obama led Romney by 51 percent to 43 percent in Iowa and 51 percent to 45 percent in Wisconsin, according to the NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist College survey released yesterday. The results were little changed from NBC/Journal/Marist polls last month that showed Obama up by eight points in Iowa and by five in Wisconsin.

The latest surveys were taken Oct. 15-17, before and after the second debate between Obama and Romney. Polls taken after the Oct. 16 encounter in Hempstead, New York, showed that the president won the town-hall-style event.

Wisconsin and Iowa are among nine states that strategists in both parties say will decide who wins the White House on Nov. 6. Obama and Romney are focusing on the so-called battleground states during the final weeks of the campaign.

Surveys taken during the past week have shown the former Massachusetts governor narrowing or eliminating the president’s lead in most battleground states. Romney picked up momentum after winning the first debate on Oct. 3 in Denver.

Obama won Wisconsin by 14 percentage points in 2008. The state, which has 10 electoral votes, last voted Republican for president in 1984. Republicans are actively contesting the state this year after Governor Scott Walker overcame a recall campaign in June and Romney picked Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan as his running mate in August.

Job Approval

Though Iowa voted Democratic in five of the past six presidential elections, the president is laboring to carry a state where the 5.5 percent unemployment rate in August was the sixth-lowest in the nation. In 2008, Obama carried the state by a 10- percentage-point margin.

Voters in 11 states, including Iowa and Ohio, already have begun casting ballots. By week’s end, four of the nine most competitive states will have early, in-person voting under way.

Fifty-one percent of likely voters in Iowa said they approve of the job Obama is doing as president, compared to 49 percent in Wisconsin, the survey released yesterday showed. Thirty-four percent of likely voters surveyed in Iowa said they had already cast ballots.

Obama and Romney are closely matched on the question of who would do a better job handling the U.S. economy. Obama led by 47 percent to 46 percent in Iowa and by 48 percent to 47 percent in Wisconsin among likely voters asked about the issue.

The survey polled 1,137 likely voters in Iowa and 1,013 in Wisconsin. The sampling margin of error was plus or minus 2.9 percentage points in Iowa and 3.1 percentage points in Wisconsin.

To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Giroux in Washington at ggiroux@bloomberg.net

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

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