It's official. Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney is entering the final stretch of the race with a slow but steady momentum against President Barack Obama both at the national level and in swing states.
A new Public Policy Polling (PPP) poll shows the former governor of Massachusetts trailing the president in the crucial battleground state of Ohio by just one percentage point, down from 5 points a week ago, and a double-digit margin before the first presidential debate in Denver.
Obama now leads Romney 49% to 48% in The Buckeye State according to the PPP survey of likely voters released Saturday. The former CEO of private equity firm Bain Capital has closed the gap in this decisive state thanks to his 7-point lead over the president among the state's independent voters, as well as a spike in the level of Republican enthusiasm (90% of Ohio Republicans said they are very enthusiastic about voting for Romney, up from 85% a week ago).
Romney also overtook Obama on two top issues in which the president held the advantage until last week; Libya and the economy. The GOP ticket leads Obama/Biden by 4 percentage points in who would be best prepared to fix the economy. Ohio voters also think Romney is right on Libya by 2 percentage points.
This is worrisome for the Obama campaign, as the president's narrow win at the second presidential debate was expected to stop Romney's momentum after the former governor crushed the president (and shook up the race) during the October 3 domestic policy debate in Colorado. Furthermore, Obama's shrinking lead in the Libya question poses a risk for the president as Monday's third and final presidential debate -- which is increasingly seen as the race's ultimate deal breaker -- will be totally devoted to foreign policy.
That's why the president has been frantically campaigning in battleground states where his support is slipping by hammering Romney for the "binder full of women" gaffe from the second presidential debate. The strategy is very telling as after the first presidential debate the Republican ticket started making inroads among female voters -- a voting bloc vital for Obama's reelection changes.
Obama has also tried to coin a new term to define Romney; "Romnesia." The president is retaking the "flip-flopper" label during the race's final days and hammering Romney for "forgetting" his previous political positions and saying whatever is needed in order to be elected. Romney's response: the "shrinking campaign" of President Obama is playing "silly word games."