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With polls tied, enthusiasm markers shift to Mitt Romney

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 2 2015 6:01 p.m. MDT

Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks to supporters during a rally Friday, Sept. 21, 2012, in Las Vegas. All national polling since Thursday's debate confirms that the race is deadlocked, with Romney gaining ground.  (Julie Jacobson, Associated Press) Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks to supporters during a rally Friday, Sept. 21, 2012, in Las Vegas. All national polling since Thursday's debate confirms that the race is deadlocked, with Romney gaining ground. (Julie Jacobson, Associated Press)

SALT LAKE CITY — All national polling since Wednesday's debate confirms that the presidential race is deadlocked, with Mitt Romney gaining ground.

Gallup shows that samples since the debate are tied, while a new Politico/GWU/Battleground poll shows a tie with enthusiasm tipping to the challenger.

While Gallup's registered voter tracking poll continues to show President Barack Obama ahead, samples taken since the election show the race tied at 47-47.

This comports with Rasmussen's tracking poll, which shows a 2-point Romney lead among likely voters. Romney also leads slightly among those who declare themselves locked in, with no possibility of change.

"Forty-five percent (45 percent) of voters are 'certain' they will vote for Romney and not change their mind before voting," Rasmussen reported. "Forty-three percent (43 percent) are certain they will vote for Obama."

In this Jan. 3, 2012 file photo, Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks in Des Moines, Iowa. All national polling since Thursday's debate confirms that the race is deadlocked, with Romney gaining ground.  (Charles Dharapak, Associated Press) In this Jan. 3, 2012 file photo, Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks in Des Moines, Iowa. All national polling since Thursday's debate confirms that the race is deadlocked, with Romney gaining ground. (Charles Dharapak, Associated Press)

The Politico poll released Monday morning shows the race statistically tied, with Obama leading Romney 49-48 percent, while Romney leads among those most likely to vote. Romney leads by 16 points among independents in the poll, who comprise 16 percent of respondents.

The partisan split on the Politico poll was D+4, a respectable tilt. In 2008, a Democratic banner year, the split was D+7, while 2004, a strong GOP turnout year, was split evenly.

"Among those extremely likely to vote," James Hohmann reported for Politico, "Romney actually leads Obama 52 percent to 46 percent. That’s up from a 2-point lead last week. Obama led 50 percent to 47 percent among this group three weeks ago."

Most significantly, this poll does not reflect the results of the debate.

"This poll was in the field last Monday through Thursday," Hohmann writes, "but about 85 percent of the calls were made before the debate on Wednesday night. The final night of tracking was good for Romney, but it’s not a big enough sample to report. So this does not reflect any momentum Romney might get from his performance in Denver."

Obama's poor debate performance presents a paradox in the Politico poll. Obama's gap in enthusiasm may be partly due to his weak performance Wednesday night — he joked Sunday night about how bad it was — but the shift in electoral expectations may create greater urgency in his base.

He can use that urgency, Hohmann noted, since this is increasingly looking like a turnout election, where the party that gets its base to the polls will win.

"The percentages among key Democratic constituencies who say they are extremely likely to vote should cause concern in Chicago," Hohman wrote, "While 82 percent of whites (who break for Romney by a 15-point margin) say they’re 'extremely likely' to vote, only 71 percent of African-Americans and 70 percent of Latinos do. And just 68 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds, another key Obama constituency, put themselves in the 'extremely likely' to vote category."

Eric Schulzke writes on national politics for the Deseret News. He can be contacted at eschulzke@desnews.com.

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