WASHINGTON, Oct 10: Republican challenger Mitt Romney has pulled ahead of President Barack Obama in the race for the White House for the first time in more than a month and leads 45 per cent to 44 per cent among likely voters, according to a tracking poll released on Wednesday.

With just under four weeks to go before the Nov 6 election, Romney’s surge followed his strong performance against Obama in last week’s debate and erased a jump in support that Obama had enjoyed following the Sept 3 to 6 Democratic National Convention.

The poll showed that voters have warmed to Romney across a range of policy issues following the debate. On Tuesday, the tracking poll had the two candidates tied at 45 per cent.

Obama had a steady lead in the daily tracking poll for most of September after the Democratic convention but Romney narrowed the gap after the debate and finally inched ahead on Wednesday.

“We have always felt that this was going to be a very close election and the numbers now reflect that — they are head to head, which is where they were pre- both conventions,” said Ipsos pollster Julia Clark.

“This is where they’ll remain, with some movement of course, until we hit Election Day,” Clark said.

SIGNIFICANT GAINS: Romney gained significant ground against Obama among registered voters on a number of economic policy issues from Oct. 6-10, compared to the four-day period leading up to the Oct 3 debate on domestic policy.

“Romney has made significant gains in terms of his perception with voters,” Clark said. “He has really caught up to Obama on some key issues. The debate was perhaps the trigger, and the positive coverage Romney gained from the debate ... is also part of the explanation on this.” Poll respondents said Romney was best placed to handle the US economy, help fix unemployment and deal with the federal deficit.

Romney’s best showing against Obama was for his plan to tackle the federal deficit. A total of 39 per cent of registered voters said Romney had a better approach to the deficit, compared to 27 per cent for Obama. The two were tied at 33 per cent on that issue before the debate.—Reuters

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