Heading into Wednesday night’s debate, President Obama holds a narrow lead over Mitt Romney nationally and a more sizeable advantage in the battleground states that will ultimately decided the November election.
According to the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll, the president is running ahead of his GOP rival, 49 percent to 47 percent, among likely voters across the country. But in the key tossup states, voters prefer the president over Romney by a margin of 52 percent to 41 percent.
The Post/ABC findings are consistent with other recent surveys from other organizations. The first presidential debate, which is Wednesday in Denver, offers Romney perhaps his best shot in the next five weeks of shifting the dynamics of the campaign.
Even so, with 36 days till Election Day and early voting happening across the country, an overwhelming number of voters say their minds are already made up. Eighty-six percent of voters responded in the Post/ABC poll that they would definitely vote for their chosen candidate, while just 13 percent said there’s a chance they could change their minds. Even then, of that 13 percent, only 3 percent said there was a “good” chance, compared to 10 percent who said it was “unlikely.”
While the two campaigns attempt to set expectations for their first encounter, there’s a clear favorite in the minds of the American people. When voters were asked who they thought would win the debates, 56 percent chose Mr. Obama, while 29 percent named Romney.
That number might actually be a blessing in disguise for Romney. If voters think the president has the upper hand going into Wednesday night and Romney proves to be his equal, those sitting at home may well give the victory to the challenger.
For more pre-debate reading, the New York Times’ Peter Baker and Ashley Parker look at how the men are preparing for their big moment.
They write that during debate prep with Romney, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman has played the role of Mr. Obama so “combatively, attacking Mr. Romney as a rich man who does not care about average Americans [that] he has gotten under the candidate’s skin.”