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Poll: Obama ahead 4 nationally, up 18 among women

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President Obama leads Mitt Romney 49 percent to 45 percent among likely voters nationwide, riding a significant advantage among female voters, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday.

Mr. Obama leads Mr. Romney, the GOP presidential nominee, 56 percent to 38 percent among women, while Mr. Romney leads 52 percent to 42 percent among male voters.

As for the supposedly all-important presidential debates, 93 percent say they are likely to watch at least some of them, but 86 percent of say the debates would likely not change their votes. While both campaigns try to play down expectations for their respective candidates, most people think Mr. Obama will win the debate — 54 percent to 28 percent — in line with other recent surveys.

“The best news for Romney going into the debates is that voters have very low expectations for him and therefore the bar for him to change some minds is set lower than it is for the president,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

Mr. Romney does enjoy an 11-point lead among white voters at 53 percent to 42 percent — but that may not portend doom for Mr. Obama, Mr. Brown said.

“President Barack Obama won only about 43 percent of the white vote in 2008, so his current standing among whites tracks his earlier winning performance,” Mr. Brown said. “If the president can match or exceed his 2008 showing among whites, it will be difficult to impossible for Romney to win. It is also very difficult to win an election when you are getting shellacked among women, the group that makes up about half the electorate.”

More voters still blame President George W. Bush for the current state of the economy. Fifty percent say they blame Mr. Bush more, and 42 percent said they blame Mr. Obama more.

Voters, by a 10-point margin, do say Mr. Romney would do a better job on the budget deficit, at 52 percent to 42 percent. But Mr. Obama leads on other issues: 50 percent to 44 percent on national security, 52 percent to 43 percent on handling an international crisis, and 50 percent to 45 percent on health care. If they or a family member were at risk of violence in a foreign country, 50 percent of likely voters want Mr. Obama in the White House and 45 percent opt for Mr. Romney.

Voters are essentially split on the all-important issue of the economy: 48 percent favor Mr. Obama, and 47 percent favor Mr. Romney on that issue.

“Some critical keys to the president’s lead are that Romney has not convinced voters that he would do a better job on the economy,” Mr. Brown said. “Romney is more trusted to address the budget deficit, but Obama is the choice to handle other major problems — and the go-to guy if you or a family member is in danger overseas.”

Quinnipiac surveyed 1,912 likely voters nationwide from Sept. 25 to 30, and the poll has a margin of error of 2.2 percentage points.

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