Poll: Storm puts close race on pause


By Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Anthony Salvanto, Fred Backus and Stephanie Condon

Before Superstorm Sandy put the presidential race on pause, President Obama held just a one-point lead over Mitt Romney nationally, according to a new CBS News/ New York Times poll, while voters continue to see Romney as stronger on the economy.

In the final days of the campaign, the storm may have changed the dynamics of the race, giving Mr. Obama a chance to display presidential leadership while compelling both the president and Romney to give up valuable days on the campaign trail. Just ahead of Sandy's arrival, however, the presidential race remained close, with Mr. Obama leading Romney among likely voters 48 percent to 47 percent, within the poll's three-point margin of error. The survey was conducted Oct. 25-28, while the storm made landfall in New Jersey on Oct. 29.


With just a week to go before the election, 10 percent of likely voters are still uncommitted, saying they are either undecided or could change their minds about who to vote for. Enthusiasm about voting is higher among Romney's supporters, 68 percent of whom say they are very excited about voting. Among Mr. Obama's supporters, 59 percent say they are very excited. Nearly eight in 10 likely voters now claim to be paying a lot of attention to the campaign, including similar percentages of Obama and Romney voters.

There is still a gender gap in the race: women support the president, 52 percent to 44 percent, while men support Romney, 51 percent to 44 percent. And while each candidate gets strong support from their respective political parties, Romney now holds a 12-point lead among the swing voting group of independents (51 percent to 39 percent). Romney retains the support of white voters, while the President enjoys strong support from non-whites.

On the issues

Romney now leads the president on the economy by six points, up from three points in a CBS News/NYT poll released just over a week ago. The Republican candidate has also widened his advantage on handling the deficit and now leads 54 percent to 39 percent. He also leads the president on handling illegal immigration by six points.

Mr. Obama leads Romney by five points on foreign policy and terrorism, but his lead on those issues has narrowed. He also has a nine-point advantage on the issue of Medicare and a 12-point advantage on abortion.

The candidates are close on taxes (Romney leads, 47 percent to 46 percent) and health care (Mr. Obama leads, 48 percent to 45 percent).

More voters say the president (52 percent to 43 percent) would do more than Romney to help the middle class.

Romney, however, has an advantage on the issue of bipartisanship. Half of likely voters think Romney would work better with both Republicans and Democrats in Congress, while 39 percent think the president would.

Voters' views of the two candidates differ sharply on corporate taxes. Though both have promised to lower the corporate tax rate, 80 percent of likely voters think Mr. Obama would raise taxes on business if he were re-elected. Seventy percent think Romney would not do so if he becomes president. About half think each man would raise taxes on people like them if elected.