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Obama, Romney in dead heat among registered voters, CBS News/New York Times poll finds

10:20 AM, Apr 18, 2012   |    comments
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(CBS NEWS) -- Mitt Romney has closed the gap with President Obama among registered voters, a CBS News/New York Times poll released Wednesday found, putting the former Massachusetts governor in a dead heat with the president for the White House.

Mr. Obama and Romney each received support from 46 percent of registered voters when asked who they would vote for if the election were held today. In March, a CBS News/New York Times survey found that Mr. Obama held a slight advantage over Romney of 47 percent to 44 percent.

The poll was conducted between last Friday and Tuesday, days after former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum suspended his campaign, effectively making Romney the presumptive nominee to take on the president in the fall. Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich remain in the race but face Romney's all-but-insurmountable lead in delegates and fundraising ahead of the Republican convention this summer in Tampa, Florida

Following the end of Santorum's bid for the presidency, Republican primary voters have rallied behind Romney, with 54 percent saying they want him to lead Republicans into the fall campaign season. That's a significant difference from March, when only 30 percent wanted him to be the nominee.

Gingrich was preferred among 20 percent of Republican primary voters; Paul received support from 12 percent. Nine percent picked "someone else." When asked if Santorum should have suspended his campaign, 63 percent of those polled said yes; 30 percent said no.

Still, many Republicans expressed lukewarm feelings toward Romney, with 40 percent of primary voters having reservations about him compared with 33 percent saying they supported him "enthusiastically." In January, the last time a CBS News/New York Times survey asked primary voters about Romney, 28 percent said they supported him enthusiastically and 38 percent had reservations.

Among Republicans with reservations of Romney are primary voters who identified themselves as white evangelicals, conservatives and supporters of the tea party movement. Half of white evangelicals told pollsters that they had reservations about Romney over the 27 percent who supported him enthusiastically. Romney received enthusiastic support from more than a third (36 percent) of conservatives and tea party backers; however, 41 percent have reservations about him.

Although evangelicals were some of Santorum's strongest supporters, 52 percent of those polled agreed that he did the right thing to bow out of the race.

More details from the poll will be released on the "CBS Evening News" and on CBSNews.com at 6:30 p.m. ET.

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This poll was conducted by telephone from April 13-17, 2012, among 957 adults nationwide. 852 interviews were conducted with registered voters, including 268 with voters who said they plan to vote or already have voted in a Republican primary. Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The margin of error for the sample of registered voters could be plus or minus three points and six points for the sample of Republican primary voters. The error for subgroups may be higher. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Poll.

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