Obama vs. Romney: Polls Show Close Race

Current polling suggests that the general election contest between President Barack Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney is a dead heat.

The RealClearPolitics average of seven different polls has Obama with a slight lead but within the margin of error. Obama is at 47.6 percent and Romney is at 43.3 percent. The most recent poll, conducted by Rasmussen Reports, shows an even tighter race – Obama with 44 percent to Romney's 45 percent (margin of error is +/- three percentage points).

Of recent polls, CNN/ORC's March 24-25 poll shows the largest lead for Obama – 11 percentage points. Obama has 54 percent to Romney's 43 percent in the March 24-25 poll (margin of error is +/- three percentage points).

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Since the winner of the presidential election is determined by the electoral college, rather than a national election, a look at the important battleground states might give a better indication of the current state of the race.

A USA Today/Gallup poll of 933 registered voters conducted March 20-26 in 12 swing states has Obama with a nine percentage point lead over Romney, 51 percent to 42 percent. When the same poll was conducted in February, Romney had a two percentage point lead over Obama.

The swing state poll has been criticized, though, for its choice of swing states. Christian Heinze, blogger for The Hill, noted that New Mexico, Michigan and Wisconsin are included in the poll, even though Obama won those states by wide margins in 2008, and is currently leading by wide margins. If USA Today/Gallup had included Indiana, Arizona and Missouri, states where Romney is leading but can be considered just as much swing states as New Mexico, Michigan and Wisconsin, the results may have been quite different.

Indeed, Heinze points out, the 2008 election results in Indiana, Arizona and Missouri were actually closer than Wisconsin, Michigan and New Mexico.

A better measure, therefore, might be Rasmussen Reports' "core four" survey of likely voters in the four states that, Rasmussen believes, will most likely determine the outcome of the race: Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia. The March 24-29 survey of 500 likely "core four" voters shows Obama with 47 percent and Romney with 44 percent, which is within the 4.5 percentage point margin of error.

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