Polls Show Obama Builds Modest Lead Over Romney

    In the U.S. presidential race, the latest public opinion polls suggest President Barack Obama has built a modest lead over his Republican challenger, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.  But analysts say the race remains close as both campaigns prepare for a series of debates beginning October 3.

    The most recent nationwide polls show President Barack Obama with a lead over challenger Mitt Romney of between three and seven points.

    The surveys were made after the two party conventions and suggest President Obama received a bigger boost from his convention than Romney did from his.

    “I think Obama is slightly ahead," said veteran political observer Tom DeFrank, who writes about U.S. politics for the New York Daily News. "He has to hope that in the coming months the economy gets a little better, or at least does not get worse, and we will have to see how people process that.  But I think it is really very, very close at the moment,” Obama said.

    President Barack Obama speaks at a campaign rally in Golden, Colorado, September 13, 2012.President Barack Obama speaks at a campaign rally in Golden, Colorado, September 13, 2012.
    x
    President Barack Obama speaks at a campaign rally in Golden, Colorado, September 13, 2012.
    President Barack Obama speaks at a campaign rally in Golden, Colorado, September 13, 2012.
    Although the economy remains the central issue in this year’s election campaign, foreign policy has dominated the debate in recent days after angry mobs attacked the U.S. consulate in Libya and the U.S. embassy in Cairo.  Four Americans died in the consulate assault in Libya, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

    Republican Mitt Romney said the Obama administration’s handling of the attack in Egypt showed weakness, referring to an early embassy statement condemning an Internet video that sparked the protests.

    President Obama told the CBS program “60 Minutes” that Romney’s criticism showed what he called a “tendency to shoot first and aim later.”

    The Romney comments drew criticism even from some Republicans, who questioned the wisdom of trying to critique the handling of a foreign policy issue as it was unfolding.

    Political analyst Rhodes Cook says many Republicans are urging Romney to refocus on the economy, which they believe is his strongest argument to defeat the president in November.

    “I think there is a sense of trying to get the race back to where it was before the conventions.  The economy is his big issue, so to go after Obama on this or to break ground on how you handle a foreign policy crisis is risky,” Cook said.

    Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney campaigns at Van Dyck Park in Fairfax, Va., Sept. 13, 2012Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney campaigns at Van Dyck Park in Fairfax, Va., Sept. 13, 2012
    x
    Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney campaigns at Van Dyck Park in Fairfax, Va., Sept. 13, 2012
    Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney campaigns at Van Dyck Park in Fairfax, Va., Sept. 13, 2012
    Romney refocused his campaign on the president’s handling of the economy during a campaign stop Thursday in Virginia.

    Both campaigns are also preparing for the upcoming series of debates.  There will be three debates between the president and Mr. Romney as well as one vice presidential debate between Vice President Joe Biden and the Republican candidate, Congressman Paul Ryan.  The first debate will take place October 3.

    Analyst Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution says he expects the Romney campaign to try to put the focus back on the economy and jobs in the final weeks of the campaign.

    “As best we can tell it really is trying to return the campaign debate to a referendum on President Obama and the performance of the economy,” Mann said.

    In addition to a lead in national polls, President Obama also leads Romney in a number of closely contested so-called battleground states that will likely determine the outcome of the election November 6.

    Speaking on VOA's Encounter program, Judd Legum of the Center for American Progress says President Obama has an advantage in the state-by-state competition for electoral college votes because he can afford to lose a few states he won four years ago and still win re-election.

    “I do think that there are some structural advantages for Obama, at least as things sit now, simply because he had a fairly resounding victory last time, so he can lose quite a few states that he won last time and still end up retaining the presidency,” Legum said.

    Both candidates are expected to concentrate on a handful of battleground states in the final weeks of the campaign, states that include Ohio, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Virginia and Wisconsin.

    Jim Malone

    Jim Malone has served as VOA’s National correspondent covering U.S. elections and politics since 1995. Prior to that he was a VOA congressional correspondent and served as VOA’s East Africa Correspondent from 1986 to 1990. Jim began his VOA career with the English to Africa Service in 1983.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora