Poll: Obama, Romney locked in tight race

With 53 days left until the election, a new CBS-New York Times poll shows President Obama with a small lead over Mitt Romney. It also shows that Americans who believe the country is headed in the right direction increased nine percent. Bob Schieffer analyzes the new numbers.

By Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Anthony Salvanto, Fred Backus and Steve Chaggaris

President Obama continues to hold a very slight lead over Mitt Romney - within the margin of error - according to a new CBS News poll released today.

Forty-eight percent of likely voters say they'll vote for Mr. Obama, while 46 percent support Romney, virtually unchanged from our last poll taken in September. The poll was conducted between Oct. 17-20, after the presidential candidates' second debate on Oct. 16.

Eleven percent of likely voters are uncommitted now, as they are either undecided or could still change their minds about who to vote for. These voters could swing the race either way.

Romney's voters are more enthusiastic about voting this year than the president's supporters - 58 percent of Romney voters say they're more enthusiastic about voting this year as compared to past elections, 39 percent of Obama voters say that. Slightly more of them are paying attention to the campaign.

Who is Supporting Who?

The poll also shows a narrowing of the gender gap. Women have given the President a nearly double-digit lead in many polls, including the September CBS News/New York Times Poll. Now, however, women support Mr. Obama by five points, 50 to 45 percent (down from 12 points last month); the race is even among men - tied at 47 percent.

Some vote patterns from the 2008 election seem to be holding steady: Romney has a 14-point lead among white voters, 54 to 40 percent, while Mr. Obama is the choice of more than nine in ten African-American voters.

Each candidate gets strong support from their respective political parties and the president has an edge among independents, 46 to 42 percent.

Mr. Obama leads with voters under the age of 45, with 55 percent of voters in that age group supporting him, but the race is close among senior citizens: Romney has a slight lead, 48 to 45 percent. Medicare funding and Social Security have emerged as key disagreements between the two campaigns in the last month.

The gap between white college graduates and non-college graduates continues. Romney has a 20 point lead with white voters who did not attend college; it is a closer race among whites who have a college degree - Romney leads 50 to 45 percent with that group.