Barack Obama has edged ahead of Mitt Romney in the final days of the presidential campaign. In the Pew Research Center’s election weekend survey, Obama holds a 48% to 45% lead over Romney among likely voters.
The survey finds that Obama maintains his modest lead when the probable decisions of undecided voters are taken into account. Our final estimate of the national popular vote is Obama 50% and Romney 47%, when the undecided vote is allocated between the two candidates, based on several indicators and opinions.
The race was deadlocked as recently as a week ago, before Hurricane Sandy devastated the East Coast. Obama’s handling of the storm’s aftermath may have contributed to his improved showing. Fully 69% of all likely voters approve of the way Obama is handling the storm’s impact. Even a plurality of Romney supporters (46%) approve of Obama’s handling of the situation; more important, so too do 63% of swing voters. In addition, Obama’s recent gains have been most notable in the Northeast, which was hit hardest by Sandy.
The survey also finds:
- Voter turnout, which may be lower than in 2008 and 2004, remains one of Romney’s strengths. Romney’s supporters continue to be more engaged in the election and interested in election news than are Obama supporters, and are more committed to vote.
- The race is as close in the nine battleground states as it is nationally: 49% of likely voters in battleground states support Obama while 47% back Romney.
- Obama has more strong support than Romney, and the candidate with a higher percentage of strong support has won the popular vote in most elections since 1960.
- Early voters make up a sizable percentage of all voters, but there is no sign that early voters are breaking decisively toward either candidate. Among the 34% of likely voters who say they have already cast their ballot, 48% say they supported Obama, 46% Romney. “