Pollster: Obama and Romney race will tighten

(CBS News) On "Face the Nation" Sunday, Larry Sabato from the University for Virginia Center on Politics predicted that the presidential race will get closer before election day.

"I would just caution, the fundamentals of this election call for a close election. I really think the election is going to tighten. Yes, President Obama is ahead, and probably has the best chance to win, but this is going to be a tighter race than the polls show right now," he said.

Sabato said he thinks the election is even tighter now than it appears and that it's "almost impossible" for him to win by 2008 margins.

" I'll tell you, it's caused me to question some of the polls because based on everything I know about Virginia and everything I'm seeing, I think the real margin is actually quite close," he said. "I would give President Obama, spot him two or three points, you know he won by six last time in Virginia. Think of the conditions in the country. It's almost impossible to imagine him winning by the same margin in Virginia or nationally so my projection is he gets considerably fewer electoral votes than he got last time. He got 365. I'll be surprised if he gets above 320 or so, maximum under the best conditions."

Also on "Face the Nation," Democratic consultant Bob Shrum said Mitt Romney continues to face a challenge, however. "I think it goes beyond issues and the alienation of people on the Medicare issue and things like that. A Republican friend of mine privately says the fundamental problem [Romney] has isn't that people don't like him, it's that people think Romney doesn't like them.

"So in this debate, he somehow or other has got to make people sense that he feels and understands what they're going through, and that can't be by telling his life story. That has to be by relating to them in a way that seems authentic," Shrum added.

Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., dismissed polling that shows President Obama beating Romney among women by 25 points. She said the woman's vote is "moveable."

"I think most women are independent voters. And they're waiting to see some specifics," she said. "They want to know what is going to be done to repeal, replace Obamacare, make that workable. They're looking for detail, and I think that a lot of the undecideds are there, and that female vote is very soft."

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When pressed by host Bob Schieffer about details, Blackburn said the Romney campaign will "come forward in the debates and over the next couple of weeks, and he has started to roll out some of these specifics."

Shrum said the Romney campaign has stopped asking voters if they are better off than they were four years ago because "people are not dumb."

"[F]our years ago, this country was on the abyss of a depression. We're not today. And there's a reason why in all of this polling data the president - who should be behind on who can handle the economy - is now either tied or ahead. People are not dumb. They don't think Barack Obama created these circumstances," he said.

Blackburn, however, disagreed. "People know that the stimulus and all of this out-of-control spending, increasing the federal debt by 50 percent has not helped them, it has made their situation worse," she said.

  • Leigh Ann Caldwell On Twitter»

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

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