A new poll says that President Barack Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney are deadlocked in Iowa, one of a handful of key swing states expected to play a pivotal role in the fall election.
The NBC News/Marist poll, conducted May 22 through 24, says Obama and Romney both are at 44 percent among Iowa registered voters who have made up their minds or are leaning one way or the other. Ten percent were undecided. The other two percent were for other candidates. They also were deadlocked at 41 percent when only decided voters were considered.
Iowa is an important state, and the president’s campaign in particular has focused heavily on it. It has run several television ads and set up a network of campaign offices across the state. The president made his first campaign visit to the state last week.
Republican groups also have been on the air, targeting the president. Romney also spent time here leading up to the Jan. 3 precinct caucuses.
The new poll, which surveyed 1,106 people, has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points and was one of a trio of swing state polls that were conducted by Marist for NBC News. Similar polls in Nevada and Colorado also say the two candidates are deadlocked in those swing states.
The poll director, Lee M. Miringoff, noted that Romney’s supporters are more enthusiastic and more interested than the president’s. Among those who express a high level of enthusiasm, the poll says, 51 percent are behind Romney, while 43 percent are behind Obama. Only 38 percent of the poll sample said they were very enthusiastic about voting in November.
Obama has the edge among voters who are only moderately interested, 53 percent to 40 percent.
The president’s recent declaration that he favors same-sex marriage doesn’t appear to have had an impact on a plurality of Iowa voters. Forty-two percent of those in the poll said a candidate’s position on same-sex marriage will likely not affect their decision whom to support. However, 34 percent of the respondents said they are more likely to back Romney because of his opposition to same-sex marriage, while a lesser number, 22 percent, said they’re more likely to cast their ballot for the president because of his support.
A large majority of the poll respondents, 71 percent, said the economy is more important to deciding their vote than social issues. Romney has a 46 percent to 41 percent edge over Obama when respondents were asked who would handle the economy better.
Meanwhile, 55 percent of the poll respondents said they think the worst of the economic troubles are behind the country, with 36 percent saying there’s more bad news down the road.
The president scored higher than Romney when questions were asked about who would better handle foreign policy matters or who has a better understanding of their problems. Romney scored better than Obama when the question came to who would best handle the national debt.