U.S. President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney are running neck-and-neck in a dozen of crucial swing states that are likely to determine the outcome of the November elections, according to a poll released on Monday.
Obama and former Massachusetts governor Romney started their head-to-head contest essentially even among registered voters, with Obama leading by 47 percent to 45 percent in the 12 battleground states. This is the first USA TODAY/Gallup Swing States Poll since Romney almost secured his nomination as the GOP contender last month.
The results were in contrast to the 9-percent lead held by Obama in the survey conducted in late March in the swing states, which include Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.
Obama has a four-point advantage with respect to solid supporters -- 36 percent of swing state voters say they are certain to vote for Obama in November, as compared with 32 percent who say they will definitely vote for Romney.
The poll finds big challenges for each side: Romney in generating enthusiasm and a personal connection with his supporters, and Obama in convincing Americans he should be trusted to manage a fragile economy.
Obama's swing-state prospects look a bit brighter than Romney's on the basis of voter enthusiasm. Fifty-five percent of Obama supporters are extremely or very enthusiastic about voting in this year's presidential election, up from 49 percent in the March survey. By contrast, 46 percent of Romney's supporters are extremely or very enthusiastic, slightly lower than 47 percent in March.
The results are a reversal from January, when 55 percent of Romney's supporters were extremely or very enthusiastic, compared with 50 percent of Obama voters.
However, on the issue of managing the economy, which is widely regarded as a deciding factor in the November elections, Obama lags behind Romney. The poll finds that 60 percent of voters say Romney would do a good or very good job in handling the economy over the next four years if elected president, as against 52 percent who say that of Obama. Even among the president's supporters, four in 10 predict that Romney would do a good job in dealing with the economy.
The latest USA TODAY/Gallup Swing States Poll was based on telephone interviews conducted from April 26 to May 2 on 951 registered U.S. voters aged 18 and older. It has an error margin of 4 percent.