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Romney With Slight Lead Over Obama In New National Poll

A new Monmouth University Poll shows likely voters in this year’s national presidential race shows Mitt Romney with a nominal, but statistically insignificant, one point lead over Barack Obama. As a result of the first presidential debate, more U.S. voters feel they now have a better sense of the GOP challenger’s plans for the country and give him the edge on key issues.

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney
Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

“There is no question that the electorate is extremely volatile. Many of the polling shifts we see now are within the margin of error and reflect just how close this race is,” says Patrick Murray, director of the New Jersey-based Monmouth University Polling Institute, adding, “There is no doubt that the candidates’ performances in the first debate changed the underlying dynamic of this race, benefitting Mitt Romney across the board.”

In the survey released this afternoon, Romney leads the incumbent by 47% to 46% among likely American voters. This marks a reversal of the 3-point edge Obama held in the Monmouth University Poll one month ago. If all registered voters cast ballots, Obama would cling to a tenuous lead of 46% to 43%.  The poll finds older voters to be a key demographic that has shifted toward the Republican nominee.  Romney now claims a 52% to 44% advantage among likely voters age 55 and older.

Nearly 6-in-10 likely voters (58%) report watching the entire first debate and another 25% watched clips or parts of it. Only 7% of likely voters say they heard nothing at all about the debate. Just 9% of likely voters report that the debate caused them to have a change of heart about which candidate they would support. Among this group, 73% now declare themselves for Romney to just 18% for Obama. Although this group is small, this shift could represent a net 4 to 5 point swing toward the GOP nominee in the voter preference margin.

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