Obama, Romney neck and neck: poll

Obama, Romney neck and neck: poll

Obama, Romney neck and neck: poll

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign stop in St. Petersburg, Florida. AFP photo

U.S. voters are nearly evenly divided between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney with five months to go before the election, especially on handling the economy, polls show.

With U.S. unemployment still hovering above 8 percent, both candidates have stepped up their emphasis on jobs and the economy. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows Obama and Romney locked in a dead heat over handling the economy, according to the Associated Press. They are tied at 47 percent.

Overall, 49 percent said they back Obama for re-election and 46 percent preferred Romney, a statistically insignificant difference. Other recent national polls show a similarly close margin. Earlier polls generally showed the former Massachusetts governor holding a slight lead over Obama on economic issues and Obama slightly ahead overall. But the tightening follows an aggressive attack on Romney’s business credentials by the Obama campaign, including ads painting him as a job-destroying corporate raider. The survey found that 80 percent of Americans still hold a negative view of the economy, but 54 percent said they felt more positively about the economic situation in the coming years, and 58 percent felt the financial prospects would improve.

Romney sweeps primaries in Arkansas, Kentucky
Meanwhile, Romney won primary votes on May 22 in the southern states of Alabama and Kentucky, bringing him within arm’s reach of scoring the delegates needed for his party’s formal White House nomination, Agence France-Presse reported.

In Alabama and Kentucky, Romney collects at least 73 of the 75 delegates at stake in the two states, Romney now has 1,065 delegates, leaving him just 79 shy of the 1,144 delegates needed to win the nomination at the Republican National Convention in late August in Tampa, Florida. The Republican nomination race has been largely academic for months since the other main candidates have dropped out, and Romney is the party’s nominee in all but name.