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Obama holds slim lead in Ohio, poll finds

August 23, 2012|By Joseph Tanfani
  • President Obama speaks at a campaign event at Canyon Springs High School in North Las Vegas, Nev.
President Obama speaks at a campaign event at Canyon Springs High School… (Carolyn Kaster / Associated…)

In the crucial swing state of Ohio, where voters have been hit with an onslaught of campaign ads and candidate rallies for months, President Obama still holds a slim lead -- but about one in six voters are still trying to make up their minds, according to a new poll.

The Ohio Poll, sponsored by the University of Cincinnati, found the president with a 3-percentage-point lead over Republican challenger Mitt Romney, 49% to 46%, within the poll's 3.4-point margin of error. At the same time, 13% of respondents said they might change their choice, and 4% said they were still undecided.

"Voters know there is a lot more to come in this campaign," Eric Rademacher, co-director of the Ohio Poll, said in an interview. "They don’t have to make up their minds quite yet. They have a lot of opportunities coming up to see these candidates."

Another poll, by Quinnipiac University with CBS and the New York Times, had more reassuring news for Obama, showing that he had 50% support in Ohio, to 44% for Romney, and was hanging on to thinner leads in Florida and Wisconsin.

The polls diverged somewhat on how respondents assessed the abilities of the candidates to deal with key issues. The Ohio Poll, for example, found that those voters surveyed were significantly more confident in Romney's ability to deal with economic issues.

The Quinnipiac poll found only a marginal advantage for Romney among Ohio voters surveyed.

With the election so close, get-out-the vote operations will be key, Rademacher said. His poll did find a sizable lead for Romney among independent voters -- perhaps the clearest opportunity for the challenger, Rademacher said.

"It is a malleable group," he said. "And you never want to take it for granted and never want to assume it's on your side."

Both polls said respondents felt a lot better about Obama's ability to deal with healthcare and Medicare.

"On every other issue but one, reducing the budget deficit, voters give the president the edge," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "Be it the taxes, foreign policy or Medicare and healthcare, they see Obama as preferable."

The Quinnipiac poll found that Romney received a small bump in Wisconsin and Florida with his pick of running mate Paul D. Ryan. Respondents generally saw Ryan in a more favorable light than Vice President Joe Biden, the poll indicated, and they viewed Ryan almost as qualified as Biden to be president.

Converting Medicare to a voucher system, an idea pushed by Ryan, is a tough sell in all three swing states, the poll found -- six in 10 respondents said they wanted to keep Medicare in its current form. At the same time, nearly half the voters surveyed said they would support "minor reductions" in Medicare to reduce the deficit.

The Quinnipiac poll found strong support in all three states for voter ID measures -- even in Florida, where state officials have purged non-citizens from state voter rolls. By a more than 2-1 margin, voters surveyed said disagreed with the proposition that the effort amounted to an attempt to suppress minority turnout.

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joseph.tanfani@latimes.com

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