By Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Anthony Salvanto, Fred Backus and Steve Chaggaris
President Obama is holding on to a five-point lead over Republican Mitt Romney in Ohio, but that margin has been cut in half since September, according to a new Quinnipiac University/CBS News poll.
Mr. Obama holds a 50 to 45 percent lead over Romney among likely voters in the Buckeye State, down from a 53 to 43 percent advantage on Sept. 26. Three percent of likely voters there are undecided.
A gender gap persists: President Obama still has a double-digit advantage among women, 55 to 40 percent (down from a 60 to 35 percent lead in the September poll), while Romney leads with men.
The president enjoys a 15-point lead with women, while Romney is ahead by seven points among men, 51 to 44 percent, virtually unchanged from last month. Mr. Obama has a nearly two to one lead with unmarried women, but married women are more divided in their vote preferences.
While seniors were split in their support last month, they are now backing Romney over the president, 51 to 44 percent. Young voters still support President Obama by a large margin.
Romney has made some inroads with independents; he now leads among this group by seven points, 49 to 42 percent. Romney had a one-point advantage among independents in September.
The president is viewed as better on foreign policy, 50 to 43 percent, which will be the focus of tonight's debate, but his lead has shrunk from 13 to seven points on this measure. The candidates are now even on handling the economy; last month, the president led by six points on this issue. Romney has also widened his lead over the president on handling the budget deficit.
The president continues to be seen by Ohio voters as caring about their needs and problems - 60 percent say he does while just 37 percent say he does not - similar to last month. While Mitt Romney has improved on this measure, more voters continue to think he does not care about their needs and problems than think he does.
Men and women view Mitt Romney differently on this characteristic. While 51 percent of men think Mitt Romney does care about their needs and problems, most women do not. Majorities of both men and women think Barack Obama cares.
When it comes to who would do a better job helping the middle class, Mr. Obama has a 13 point lead over Mitt Romney, 54 to 41 percent.