President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney remained in a virtual tie among likely voters in an ABC News/Washington Post poll, though the incumbent opened up a six-point lead among registered voters following the Democratic and Republican nominating conventions.
The poll gave Obama 49 percent and Romney 48 percent among likely voters, showing little movement from a survey taken before the party gatherings, which had Romney ahead by two points. Both of those results were within the margins of error for the surveys.
The tightness of the race among likely voters compared with registered voters reflects that Romney supporters say they are more likely to vote, and therefore the race may turn on which side gets its backers to the polls, said Gary Langer, president of New York-based Langer Research Associates, which conducted the poll.
Among registered voters, the ABC/Post poll found 50 percent supporting Obama and 44 percent backing Romney in the three days after the Democrats’ nominating convention wrapped up Sept. 6 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
A CNN survey conducted over the same period, Sept. 7-9, showed Obama ahead of Romney, 52 percent to 46 percent, among likely voters. A CNN survey taken Aug. 31-Sept. 3, following the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, had the two tied at 48 percent.
The results in the ABC/Post poll among registered voters and the CNN post-convention poll are similar to what the Gallup Poll showed in its tracking of the presidential contest. Obama led Romney, 50 percent to 44 percent, in a survey of voters taken Sept. 7-10, after the Democratic convention, compared with a 47 percent to 46 percent edge in an Aug. 31-Sept. 3 poll following the Republican gathering. Gallup’s survey of 1,896 registered voters had a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.
Neil Newhouse, pollster for the Romney campaign, yesterday dismissed post-convention gains for Obama as “a bit of a sugar high.”
“The reality of the Obama economy will reassert itself as the ultimate downfall of the Obama presidency,” he said.
The CNN survey of likely voters found a narrowing gap among men, who tended to support Romney in pre-convention polling. Obama led Romney, 48 percent to 47 percent, among men in this survey and continued to hold an advantage among women, 55 percent to 44 percent.
The ABC/Post poll’s six-percentage-point advantage for Obama among registered voters compares with a one-point advantage for Romney -- 47 percent to 46 percent favoring Obama -- in a survey of a similar group taken immediately before the conventions.
Langer said the biggest shift has been among Democrats coalescing around their party’s nominee. Obama’s support among Democrats registered to vote has advanced by eight percentage points, to 91 percent, following the convention.
In the eight states that Obama and Romney are contesting most heavily -- which include Ohio and Florida -- the ABC/Post poll found a 54 percent to 40 percent advantage for the president among registered voters. Before the conventions, Romney led Obama in a comparable sampling from these states, 48 percent to 42 percent.
Sixty-three percent of the registered voters surveyed say Romney hasn’t provided enough details about the policies he would pursue as president, compared with 31 percent who say he has.
While 53 percent of registered voters disapprove of Obama’s handling of the economy, and 43 percent say the economy has gotten worse under his presidency, 57 percent say it wouldn’t have done any better under Romney.
By 10 percentage points -- 50 percent to 40 percent -- most surveyed say the president better understands economic problems people are having, and a wide margin -- 61 percent of those polled -- rate the president as more personally likeable, while 27 percent preferred Romney.
Obama is viewed as a stronger leader by 50 percent, compared with 42 percent for Romney, and as better able to work with both sides of Congress by 46 percent, compared with 41 percent for Romney.
The ABC/Washington Post survey of 826 registered voters has a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points; for its sample of 710 likely voters, the error margin is 4.5 points. The CNN/ORC international poll of 709 likely voters has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
One reason Democrats may be coalescing around Obama is their perception that the economy is improving. A Pew Research Center poll released today found just 15 percent of Democrats say news about the economy is mostly bad, down from 31 percent last month and 62 percent in August 2011. Among Republicans, 60 percent said they are primarily hearing bad economic news, basically unchanged from last month and down from 71 percent in August 2011.
Among adults overall, 35 percent said news about the economy was mostly bad, a decline from 41 percent a month ago and 67 percent in August 2011.
The Pew survey of 1,012 adults was taken Sept. 7-9 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points overall, 7.3 percentage points for Republicans and six percentage points for the Democratic sample.
Separately, the Pew poll found former President Bill Clinton’s address was the highlight of the Democratic National Convention, overshadowing Obama’s speech accepting the presidential nomination.
Pew reported that 29 percent of adults who watched the convention identified Clinton’s address as the highlight, compared with 16 percent who picked Obama’s speech and 15 percent who cited first lady Michelle Obama’s remarks to the delegates.
A Pew poll last week found that the highlight of the Republican convention was actor Clint Eastwood’s “dialogue” with an empty chair, followed by Romney’s acceptance speech.
Obama’s acceptance speech was viewed favorably by 60 percent by those who watched it compared with 53 percent of those who tuned in to see Romney, according to the Pew poll.
Obama’s speech reached more people; 43 percent said they watched some or all of the Democratic convention last week, compared with 38 percent who saw some or all of the Republican gathering. Four years ago, 46 percent of adults watched all or some of the Democratic convention and 56 percent saw all or some of the Republican event.
Both nominees received boosts from the convention, with 25 percent saying their opinion of Romney was more favorable following the Republican gathering and 26 percent saying their opinion of Obama was more favorable after the Democratic convention.