AP poll: Romney up 2 at 47/45, gender gap gone

Mitt Romney continues his momentum in a poll conducted both before and after the final presidential debate, taking the lead for the first time among likely voters in the AP/GfK poll at 47/45.  Not only are respondents starting to question Barack Obama’s chances of winning the election, but Obama’s gender gap advantage has disappeared:

What gender gap?

Less than two weeks out from Election Day, Republican Mitt Romney has erased President Barack Obama’s 16-point advantage among women, a new Associated Press-GfK poll shows. And the president, in turn, has largely eliminated Romney’s edge among men.

Those churning gender dynamics leave the presidential race still a virtual dead heat, with Romney favored by 47 percent of likely voters and Obama by 45 percent, a result within the poll’s margin of sampling error, the survey shows.

After a commanding first debate performance and a generally good month, Romney has gained ground with Americans on a number of important fronts, including their confidence in how he would handle the economy and their impressions of his ability to understand their problems.

At the same time, expectations that Obama will be re-elected have slipped: Half of voters now expect the president to win a second term, down from 55 percent a month earlier.

A month ago, this series had Obama up one among likely voters, 47/46, although tied without leaners at 44.  Now Romney leads without leaners by three points, 45/42 — and a firm number of 42% for a incumbent is a disaster 12 days out from the election.  When the “could change mind” voters are taken out, it’s even worse — 43/41 for Romney, with the incumbent barely above four out of ten voters.

Let’s check the sample.  The D/R/I 34/30/27 among likely voters for a D+4 advantage, which presumes a lower Republican turnout than either 2008 or 2010, along with a Democratic turnout about even with the midterms.  I suspect that’s a little optimistic for Democrats, and that we’re likely to see an even-up turnout in the exit polling.

There is more bad news in the data for Obama.  While he’s still seen as relatively favorable among likely voters (51/45, +6), Romney now has a +10 favorability rating at 52/42.  Romney has a seven-point lead on trust on the economy (51/44) and eight points on the deficit (51/43).  Romney now has a one-point edge on protecting the country at 47/46, a big change from last month’s six-point advantage for Obama at 51/45.  That has to be the Benghazi effect.

The AP/GFK topline report does not have the crosstab info by demographic, but the AP reports on a couple of key points:

Romney’s pitch to women has been focused squarely on the economy, making the case that what women want most is to ensure their families and their country are on a solid financial footing. The poll shows that message appears to be taking root.

A month ago, women favored Obama over Romney on the economy 56 percent to 40 percent. Now, the split has shifted to 49 percent for Romney and 45 percent for Obama.

Similarly, Obama’s lead among women as the candidate who better understands the people’s problems has narrowed considerably, from a 58-36 Obama advantage last month to a 50-43 Obama edge now.

We’ve been seeing the gender gap disappear for several weeks in other polling.  If Obama can’t reverse that in the next 12 days, he’s toast.

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