Hours before the only vice presidential debate this campaign, six new polls provide more evidence that the race for the White House is extremely tight.
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The surveys were all conducted after last week's first face-off between President Barack Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney, and they indicate the Democratic and Republican tickets are all knotted up in the battleground states of Virginia, Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin and Colorado.
The bump in the polls for Romney and the closeness of the race will further raise the stakes of Thursday night's showdown between Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP vice presidential nominee.
In Virginia, a poll from NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist indicates Romney at 48% and Obama at 47% among likely voters, basically a dead heat. In the previous NBC/WSJ/Marist survey, released just before last week's debate, Obama was at 48% and Romney at 46%.
According to a new CBS News/New York Times/Quinnipiac University poll, also released Thursday morning, the president holds a 51%-46% advantage over the former Massachusetts governor in Virginia. But the margin is within the survey's sampling error.
Thirteen electoral votes are at stake in Virginia. Four years ago Obama became the first Democrat to win the state in a presidential contest in four decades. But Republicans won back the governor's office and three House seats from the Democrats in the 2009 and 2010 elections.
In Florida, it's also all tied up in the NBC/WSJ/Marist poll, with Obama at 48% and Romney at 47%. Obama had 47% and Romney had 46% in their poll from early last week. Twenty-nine electoral votes are up for grabs in the Sunshine State, which Obama turned from red to blue in the 2008 election.
And in Ohio the NBC/WSJ/Marist survey indicates Obama with a 51%-45% advantage over Romney. The president had an eight-point lead over Romney in their pre-presidential debate poll. A CNN/ORC International survey released on Tuesday indicated Obama with a 51%-47% edge. According to polls conducted in Ohio in mid-September, Obama had a seven to 10 point lead.
Ohio was the state that put President George W. Bush over the top in his 2004 re-election, but Obama won the state four years later. Eighteen electoral votes are at stake in the Buckeye State.
In Colorado, the CBS/NYT/Quinnipiac poll indicates Romney at 48% and Obama at 47% among likely voters. According to an American Research Group survey released earlier this week, Romney had a four-point edge. Surveys conducted last month, before the Denver debate, indicated the president with the slight advantage. Colorado is another state Obama turned from red to blue in 2008. Nine electoral votes are up for grabs in Colorado.
And in Wisconsin, the CBS/NYT/Quinnipiac poll puts Obama at 50% and Romney at 47%. Pre-debate polls suggested a lead for Obama in the state that is home to the Republican running mate. Ten electoral votes are at stake in Wisconsin, which the GOP has not captured in a presidential election in nearly three decades.
In the NBC/WSJ/Marist polls in Ohio, Florida and Virginia, voters overwhelming said they made up their minds before last week's presidential debate. But Romney won the small sliver of voters who said they decided on whom they'd support for president after the debate.
Other takeaways from the NBC/WSJ/Marist polls: Romney made gains with independent voters in Virginia and Ohio, and made gains with his favorable rating in all three states, although he still trails the president when it comes to favorability.
The CBS/NYT/Quinnipiac polls indicate that likely voters in Virginia, Wisconsin, and Colorado see Romney as a stronger leader than Obama, but they also feel that the economy is improving, which will help the president.
The CBS/NYT/Quinnipiac polls were conducted October 4-9, with 1,288 likely voters in Virginia, 1,327 likely voters in Wisconsin and 1,254 likely voters Colorado questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 2.7 percentage points in Virginia and Wisconsin and plus or minus 2.8 percentage points in Colorado.
The NBC/WSJ/Marist polls were conducted October 7-9, with 988 likely voters in Florida, 994 likely voters in Ohio, and 981 likely voters in Virginia questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.