(NEW YORK) -- Registered voters by 2-1 think President Obama will win the upcoming presidential debates and go on to prevail in the November election, according to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll. But expectations aside, the race remains close, with strengths and vulnerabilities for both candidates in the campaign ahead.
After a challenging period for Romney, registered voters by 63-31 percent expect Obama to win re-election, his widest advantage in expectations in ABC/Post polls to date. A year ago -- in sharp contrast -- Americans by an 18-point margin thought he’d lose.
Potential voters by a similar 56-29 percent also expect Obama to win the debates beginning Wednesday night in Denver -- a result that ratchets up the pressure on the president to perform, leaving Romney, whatever his difficulties, greater opportunity to exceed expectations.
The contest between them, regardless, is far closer than those prognostications would suggest. Registered voters in this survey, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, divide by 49-44 percent between Obama and Romney, with the race a virtual tie -- 49-47 percent -- among those most likely to vote.
While those standings are essentially unchanged from their immediate post-convention levels, some results indicate a slight tailwind for Obama. Ratings of the economy, while very negative, have grown less intensely so since late August (39 percent say it’s in poor shape, down from 45 percent). Obama’s 47 percent approval rating for handling the economy, while still underwater, is numerically its highest in more than two years. And views that the nation is headed seriously off on the wrong track have eased by nine percentage points to the fewest since January 2011.
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