Romney drawing women

2012-10-25 21:09
Mitt Romney (AP)

Mitt Romney (AP)

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Washington - A hoarse President Barack Obama swung into a second day of a campaigning blitz after spending the night on Air Force One, while a new Associated Press-GfK poll shows he has ceded his 16-point advantage among women, a surprising drop among a key group that is crucial to his winning a second term.

The poll also shows Republican challenger Mitt Romney is favoured by 47% of likely voters to 45% for the president less than two weeks before Election Day.

Obama was scheduled to stop in his hometown of Chicago to vote, becoming the first US president to vote early in person. The election is 6 November, but voters are increasingly choosing to cast ballots before then.

Obama's dip in support among women appeared to reflect a recent drive by Romney to show himself as a more moderate candidate after months of campaigning as a hard-right conservative.

Having gained ground with women, however, Romney's campaign now must deal with the fallout from a comment by a Romney-endorsed Senate candidate in Indiana, who said that when a woman becomes pregnant during a rape, "that's something God intended".

Richard Mourdock's comment was not what most Republicans wanted to be discussing days before an extremely close election largely focused on concerns about the weak US economic recovery.

"I don't think politicians in Washington, most of whom are male, should be making health care decisions for women," Obama told a Florida crowd Thursday.

Romney ignored reporters' questions about the comments on Thursday in Ohio.

His campaign has said Romney disagreed with what Mourdock said, but stood by his endorsement of the Senate candidate.

Romney opposes abortion but, unlike Mourdock, supports exceptions in cases of rape or incest.

Soften image

Romney has narrowed or eliminated Obama leads on many key issues after a commanding first debate performance on 3 Octorber. His poll gains show that his economic argument has made progress with women as he has sought to soften his image.

A month ago, women favoured Obama over Romney on the economy 56% to 40%. Now, the split has shifted to 49% for Romney and 45% for Obama.

The poll showed Obama still leads 55% to 41% among female likely voters on the question of which candidate would make the right decisions on women's issues.

Despite the good news for Republicans, polls in a number of battleground states that will decide the election still appear to favor Obama. The presidential election is not decided by nationwide popular vote but in state-by-state contests.

Obama has been working to build his support among men, who tend to be more Republican than women. A month ago, Romney's advantage among men was 13 percentage points. Now it's down to 5 points, with most of the shift toward Obama coming among unmarried men.

Overall, people are significantly more optimistic about the economy and unemployment in the coming year than they have been at any point in AP-GfK polling going back to March 2011, when the poll first started asking those questions.

Nearly six in 10 likely voters think the economy will improve in the next year, up from 46% last month. And 42% think the number of unemployed Americans will drop in the next year, up from 32% in September.

Obama was campaigning in Florida, Virginia, and Ohio on Thursday before heading back to the White House.

He and former President Bill Clinton will campaign together on Monday for the first time, opening the final full week before Election Day with a three-state battleground blitz in Ohio, Florida and Virginia, three of the most important yet-undecided states.

Romney has whittled away the president's earlier leads in Florida and Virginia.

Romney was kicking off a daylong swing through three Ohio towns, sharpening his focus on a state that is critical to his hopes of winning the White House.

Public polling has shown Obama with a slim lead.

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