The presidential race is as close as can be, according to a national poll released Monday by Pew.
President Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney are locked at 47 percent apiece among a sample of almost 1,500 likely voters. Pew's data also showed that Republicans are maintaining an enthusiasm edge that erupted after Romney's first presidential debate performance.
"When the sample is narrowed to likely voters, the balance of opinion shifts slightly in Romney's direction, as it did in early October," according to Pew's analysis. "This reflects Romney's turnout advantage over Obama, which could loom larger as Election Day approaches. In both October surveys, more Republicans and Republican leaners than Democrats and Democratic leaners are predicted to be likely voters. In September, the gap was more modest."
The current PollTracker Average of the national race shows Romney with a small lead overall.
The President has recovered slightly from the big shift Pew picked up in early October, when it found Romney ahead 49 percent to Obama's 45 percent. Pew found big gains in Romney's personal rating and its pollsters said their general sense was voters were taking a second look at his candidacy after horrible stretch of campaigning in September following the conventions. He's nearly even with Obama on favorability among registered voters — Romney is seen favorably by 50 percent and Obama is seen favorably by 52 percent — something the Republican nominee has struggled with throughout the campaign.
That change persisted, according to Pew's analysis:
For the first time this year, a majority of registered voters who support Romney (57%) now think of their vote as a vote for Mitt Romney, not as a vote against Barack Obama. As recently as September, just over half of Romney voters (52%) said their main motivation was their opposition to Obama.
By contrast, registered voters who favor Obama have consistently described their vote as a vote for the president. Currently, 73% of Obama's supporters say they are voting for the president, while just 24% are voting against Romney.
Consistent with this, as many Romney as Obama voters express strong support for their candidate. This continues the pattern seen in the Pew Research poll in early October, after the first presidential debate, which represented a shift from polling earlier in the year when Romney's support was much more tepid.
The Pew poll used 1,495 live telephone interviews with likely voters, conducted Oct. 24-28. It has a sampling error of 2.9 percent.