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Getting closer

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Three polls taken after the first presidential debate show the race tightening and Mitt Romney gaining ground on President Barack Obama.

The two are virtually tied in battleground states Florida and Virginia, yet the president retains the advantage in another key state, Ohio.

Mr. Romney made progress in all three states, especially among men and independent voters, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The surveys conducted Oct. 7-9 by the Wall Street Journal/NBC News/Marist Poll showed a rise in Mr. Romney’s favorability ratings as a result of his debate performance. Yet President Obama’s favorability standing did not suffer, although his debate showing was criticized,

Mr. Romney advanced two percentage points in Virginia, gaining a 48 percent to 47 percent edge; the week before, President Obama held the lead, 48 percent to 46 percent. Still, that is considered a statistical tie.

Florida is also close, with Mr. Obama leading 48 percent to 47 percent; the race has tightened there since September.

Ohio showed the president with a 51 percent to 45 percent lead, compared to an eight percentage point margin the week before. The former Massachusetts governor made solid progress with independent voters who favored him in the new survey after preferring Mr. Obama a week before. One in five Ohio voters surveyed have already cast their ballots, and they preferred Mr. Obama 63 percent to 37 percent.

Did the first debate change people’s minds about whom to support? Only 6 percent of likely voters in Florida and 7 percent in Ohio and Virginia said they made up their minds after the debate.

“Most people already picked sides,” said Lee Miringoff of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion.

Perhaps that mirrors the rest of the nation. Both candidates will be fighting for the dwindling numbers of undecided voters in the remaining weeks before the election.

And two presidential debates are left to influence voters.

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