CBS goes it alone with its new poll, dropping its usual partner, the New York Times — and gets a cleaner look at the election as a result.  The poll shows a virtual dead heat, with the incumbent President up only one point over his challenger, 46/45.  CBS still manages to bury the lede, though:

A new CBS News poll out Tuesday shows that half of registered voters think that Mitt Romney does not understand their problems, reflecting an empathy gap with President Obama as Romney prepares for his acceptance speech at the Republican nominating convention.

Only 41 percent of Americans said Romney understands their needs and problems, compared to 54 percent who feel Mr. Obama understands their needs and problems.

And yet Obama only gets 46% of the leaned vote, and Romney exceeds the 41% on that question as well.  Hmmm; perhaps voters are looking for other qualities than empathy, like, say, competence?  Oddly, the CBS poll didn’t ask a single question on issues.

The sample here looks pretty solid, at least in terms of the relationship between Democrats and Republicans.  The unweighted sample D/R/I is 33/31/37; after weighting, it’s 31/29/34.  I’d say the unweighted model looks better, but only because the weighted model undersamples everyone.  A D+2 is a very defensible turnout model prediction for this election, although still remember that this is a registered voter survey and not a likely voter survey.  A single-point lead for Obama among registered voters, and especially only a 46% level of support, is a big red flag for any Democratic incumbent’s hopes for re-election.

The internals are relatively close, but not particularly favorable for Obama, either.  Despite spending the summer attempting to demonize Romney, both men have nearly identical favorability gaps, -5 for Romney and -3 for Obama — and Romney has significantly more upside, with 32% undecided against 15% for Obama.

The gender gap is neutered — pardon the pun — as Obama’s ten-point lead among women gets nearly matched by Romney’s nine-point lead among men.  Obama won by 13 among women in 2008 and edged McCain among men by one point, for a 14-point gender gap.  That’s down to a one-point gap, a virtual tie, and that can’t make Team Obama very happy.  The War on Wimminses strategy has utterly failed.  Independents split 41/40 for Romney, but that’s another problem for an incumbent who won 52% of independents in 2008.  If Obama is only at 40% among registered-voter independents after almost four years in office, this demo will break very sharply to Romney in the final weeks.

This is a very bad poll result for Team Obama from a surprisingly decent, if shallow, CBS survey.