Poll: Presidential race close in Minnesota

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A new poll shows that President Obama has a slim three-point lead among likely voters in Minnesota, a historically reliable Democratic state that most observers considered safe for Mr. Obama.

The Star Tribune Minnesota poll released today shows the president with 47 percent support compared to 44 percent for Mitt Romney. It's an improvement for Romney who was down by eight points last month. The margin of error is 3.5 percent and based on interviews with 800 likely Minnesota voters.

Prior to the release of the poll, both campaigns announced last week they would start advertising there, resulting in some head-scratching from politics-watchers. The last Republican to win Minnesota was Richard Nixon in 1972.

The president still boasts a lead among independent voters and women in the Minnesota poll. Forty-three percent of independents back the president and 13 percent say they are still undecided. Fifty-three percent of women support Mr. Obama while 51 percent of men support Romney.

Meantime, another poll shows a tightening race in the battleground state of Virginia.

The Washington Post poll released Saturday shows Mr. Obama with a four -point lead. The president's 51 percent to Romney's 47 percent shows the president with a small advantage, but that advantage has shrunk since mid-September when the same poll gave the president an eight point lead. The poll has a 3.5 percent margin of error and spoke to 1,228 likely voters.

An issue important to the state of Virginia is the military because of the concentration of defense contractors in Northern Virginia and because of a large military population in the southeastern part of the state. Although neither candidate has a significant advantage on the issue, Romney is leading by 13 points in the counties in Northern Virginia where many defense contractors are headquarters and many employees live. Romney also enjoys a 21-point lead among current and former members of the military.

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    Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.

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