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Latest polls: Romney's uphill fight not as steep

Public opinion polls are moving things in Mitt Romney's direction, with one expert suggesting that Romney 'has peeled off some of Mr. Obama’s softer support in addition to gaining ground among undecided voters.'

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In Wisconsin, the Public Policy Polling organization finds “a big debate bump for Mitt Romney.” Two weeks ago he trailed Obama by 7 points there, 52-45. Now he's pulled to within two points, with Obama's lead now just 49-47.

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“Romney's image has seen significant improvement over the last couple weeks with 49 percent of voters now expressing a positive opinion of him to 48 percent with a negative one,” PPP reported Saturday. “That's up a net 8 points from a 44-51 spread on our last poll.”

Although Obama hung on to his 9-point lead among independent voters in Wisconsin, according to PPP, there's also been “a big uptick in Republican enthusiasm about the election.”

In Colorado – another key state – the University of Denver reported Sunday that Obama continues to hold the lead among likely voters there – 47-43 percent, including 48-31 among independents.

But there was good news for Romney in Colorado as well: 38 percent of likely voters said their impression of Romney is improving, while just 18 percent felt the same way about Obama.

“Two important lessons from the polls are, first, there are very few undecided voters left in Colorado, and second, Gov. Romney has improved his position to win them over in the closing days of the race,” said University of Denver political scientist Peter Hanson. “President Obama is maintaining a narrow lead in the state, but the major question is how much movement we can expect in the polls in coming weeks with not many voters left for the candidates to persuade.”

Presidential elections are won and lost in the Electoral College, and the RealClearPolitics map shows Obama ahead of Romney 251-181 with 106 toss-ups. (It takes 270 electoral votes to win.)

Statistician and poll-watcher Nate Silver, who writes the FiveThirtyEight blog for the New York Times, gives Romney about a 20 percent chance of winning the Electoral College. Still, that’s up from 15 percent before last Wednesday’s debate.

“Mr. Romney’s gains in the polls have been sharp enough that he should continue to advance in the FiveThirtyEight forecast if he can maintain his numbers over the next couple of days,” Mr. Silver writes. “In a good number of the polls, Mr. Romney has not only improved his own standing but also taken voters away from Mr. Obama’s column, suggesting that he has peeled off some of Mr. Obama’s softer support in addition to gaining ground among undecided voters.”

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