New poll shows Obama, Romney in statistical dead heat in NHBy JOHN DiSTASO
Senior Political Reporter
July 18. 2012 12:29PM
DURHAM -- The battle between President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney for New Hampshire's four important electoral votes in the November presidential election is now a statistical dead heat.
A new poll released Tuesday, conducted by the University of New Hampshire for WMUR television, shows Obama's lead has shrunk from 9 percentage points in April to 4 percentage points.
Obama now leads.Romney, 49 to 45 percent, with 4 percent favoring some other candidate and 3 percent undecided.
UNH said the margin of error for the poll is 4.3 percent, making the race a now virtual toss-up.
In the previous WMUR-UNH poll, conducted in April, Obama led Romney 51 to 42 percent.
The new poll showed that 66 percent of likely voters said they have definitely decided who they will vote for in November, while 16 percent are leaning toward a candidate, and 18 percent are still trying to decide.
The percentage of those who say they have definitely decided has doubled since February, the survey center said.
Although New Hampshire has only four electoral votes, it is still viewed as an critical state on the electoral map. The four votes could make the difference as a candidate works to get to the magic number of 270 electoral votes.
In 2000, Democrat Al Gore lost the state by only 7,200 votes to Republican George W. Bush. Had Gore won New Hampshire, he would have been President.
In the poll, UNH surveyed 521 randomly selected New Hampshire adults between July 5 and 15. Among that group were 470 Granite Staters who said they will likely vote in the general election.
The sample included 202 self-identified Democrats, 197 self-identified Republicans and 63 self-identified independents.
Within that group were 111 self-described registered Democrats, 169 self-described registered undeclared voters and 142 self-described registered Republicans.
Both candidates polled strongly with their bases.
Obama had the support of 89 percent of Democrats while Romney was backed by 86 percent of Republicans. In April, Obama had the support of 92 percent of Democrats and Romney had the support of 86 percent of Republicans.
In the new poll, independents were split with 41 percent for Romney and 40 percent for Obama. In April, Obama led among independents 40 to 35 percent.
Poll director Andrew Smith said the election 'looks to be as close as the 2000 and 2004 elections in New Hampshire,' which were both won by about 1 percentage point.
The poll also showed that voters are split on how Obama is handling his job as President, with 47 percent approving and 48 percent disapproving. In April, 50 percent approved and 47 percent disapproved.
Obama's personal favorability rating has declined slightly from 50 percent approving and 47 percent disapproving in April to 47 percent approving and 47 percent disapproving in the new poll.
On Obama's handling of the economy, the new poll shows 43 percent approve and 53 percent disapprove. Among independents, 38 percent approve.
On Obama's handling of foreign policy, 50 percent approve and 43 percent disapprove.
Overall, 38 percent of Granite Staters said the country is going in the right direction, and 57 percent said it is on the wrong track.