Leadership (Abuja)

Nigeria: U.S. Election - Opinion Polls Point to Deadlock

As the US presidential elections get underway today in a stubbornly deadlocked race between President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney, the candidates yesterday stormed through a final exhaustive campaign push that won't end until the wee hours of Election Day in pursuit of every possible vote.

Voters are evenly split between President Obama and GOP candidate Mitt Romney on the eve of Election Day, according to a new poll from CNN/ORC International.

The poll finds that 49 percent of likely voters support the president, with 49 percent backing Romney. The president posts a wider lead among registered voters, at 50-48.

Meanwhile, in the event of an electoral college tie between Obama and Romney, a Romney/Biden presidency may just be possible. This has happened in the history of America twice. The US House of Representatives would be saddled with the responsibility to elect the president from among the contenders. Each state casts only a vote and an absolute majority of the states is required to elect.

The Senate will elect the vice president from the two vice presidential candidates who in this case are Joe Biden and Paul Ryan. The Senate then elects the VP from the candidate with the highest electoral vote by casting one vote each.

By the inauguration day, if the House fails to elect a president, the vice president elect serves as president until the deadlock is resolved in the house.

Ninety-six per cent of likely voters say their mind is made up, with 4 per cent saying they might change their mind before casting a ballot.

The CNN/ORC poll is the latest in a number of weekend polls to show the candidates in a dead heat. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll Sunday showed Obama up 1 point, at 48-47, with an ABC/Washington Post poll giving him a 49-48 edge.

A Pew Research survey gave Obama a wider lead at 50-47, but that was within the poll's margin of error.

A USA Today/Gallup battleground survey also showed voters in swing states split 48-48 between the two candidates.

Both candidates are making a final blitz Monday in key swing states to shore up support, and many state polls suggest both candidates are in striking distance in the battlegrounds that will likely decide the contest.

The CNN/ORC poll finds Obama has a net positive favourability rating, 52 per cent favourable, 46 unfavourable, with Romney also in positive territory at 51-45.

The Democratic Party, though, bests the GOP on favorability ratings, with 52 per cent saying they have a favourable view of the party to 45 per cent unfavourable. Republicans are under water with a 47-49 split.

The president also holds a positive job approval figure, with 51 per cent approval to 45 disapproval.

Congress scores a 17-74 disapproval rating, with Republican leaders in Congress at 28 per cent approval, 66 per cent disapproval. Democratic leaders in Congress receive a negative 37-59 rating from voters.

Obama also holds a slight edge on leadership, with voters agreeing he has the qualities a president needs by 56-44, compared to 55-45 for Romney.

At 44 per cent, voters said a candidate's leadership and vision were most important to them when deciding whom to back. Forty-one per cent said a candidate's stand on the issues was paramount, with 14 per cent saying the qualities were equally important.

CNN's final survey of the election season also finds the largest gender gap in its polls since 1996, with 53 per cent of women backing Obama to only 44 per cent of men.

Voters continue to give Romney the edge on the economy, which 61 per cent say is important to their vote.

Forty-three per cent of likely voters said the economy would get better only if Romney is elected, to 34 per cent who forecast improvement only with an Obama reelection. Thirteen per cent saw improvement regardless of who is elected, with 5 per cent saying the economy would not improve.

But voters also believe Romney has a tougher path to the presidency, with 57 per cent saying they believe Obama would win, to 36 percent for Romney.

Registered voters from both parties, though, are eager to vote in the presidential race, with 87 percent of Democrats saying they are enthusiastic against 11 per cent who were not enthusiastic. Eighty-seven per cent of registered GOP voters express similar enthusiasm, to 13 per cent who are not enthusiastic about their vote.

The poll, which was conducted from Nov. 2-4, has a 3-point margin of error.

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