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Political Notebook

Presidential race tightening in Ohio, poll says

Half the voters surveyed considered Obama the better candidate for foreign policy, while 43 percent said Romney would do a better job in that area.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press

Half the voters surveyed considered Obama the better candidate for foreign policy, while 43 percent said Romney would do a better job in that area.

NEW YORK — The contest in Ohio between President Obama and Mitt Romney has tightened, according to a Quinnipiac University/CBS News poll.

Obama has a 5-point advantage over his opponent among likely voters with 50 percent, to 45 percent for Romney. Last month, in the Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News poll of Ohio, Obama led by 10 points.

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In the current survey, only 3 percent remain undecided and 95 percent of those with a preference said their mind was made up. Of people who had voted, 54 percent said they cast their ballot for Obama and 39 percent said they voted for Romney.

The poll was conducted Wednesday through Saturday night, after the second presidential debate held Tuesday at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y.

Almost half (48 percent) of respondents said Obama won last week’s debate, 27 percent said Romney was better, and 12 percent considered it a draw.

Democrats overwhelmingly saw their candidate as the victor in the town hall-style debate, and nearly 6 in 10 Republicans said Romney was better.

Independents were more closely divided, but said Obama was better: 43 percent said Obama was victorious and 29 percent said Romney won.

Two-thirds of independents, though, said the debate would have no effect on their vote. Those who said the debate would influence them were evenly divided on which candidate fared better.

Those surveyed were evenly divided on which candidate they expect would do a better job dealing with the economy, but Obama had a slight edge when it comes to foreign policy, the subject of the third debate.

Half the voters surveyed considered Obama the better candidate for foreign policy, while 43 percent said Romney would do a better job in that area.

More voters, however, regarded Romney as a strong leader.

Romney was described as having strong leadership qualities by 64 percent; 52 percent said the same about Obama. — NEW YORK TIMES

Bloomberg backing marriage push

NEW YORK — Mayor Michael Bloomberg is poised to spend $500,000 of his personal fortune on gay marriage campaigns in Maine, Minnesota, and Washington state, he said Monday, following up on a major political spending push the billionaire businessman-turned-politician announced last week.

Bloomberg already had established himself as an outspoken, and generous, supporter of same-sex marriage. He unveiled a $250,000 contribution to a Maryland gay marriage effort earlier this month and has backed four New York Republican senators who crossed party lines to vote for legalizing gay marriage in the state last year.

Monday’s move deepened Bloomberg’s involvement in the issue outside New York, and it reflected his vow to give at least $10 million by Election Day to moderate candidates and to ballot initiatives supporting gay marriage and other issues around the country.

‘‘Marriage equality is the next big step in America’s long march of freedom,’’ Bloomberg said in a statement Monday.

His new contributions, intended as challenge grants to spur matching donations, include $125,000 to a group backing a ballot initiative that would legalize gay marriage in Maine and $250,000 to an organization seeking to uphold it in Washington.

A Washington law legalizing same-sex marriage was passed and signed this year, but it’s on hold until next month’s referendum.

Bloomberg is giving another $125,000 to a group working against a Minnesota constitutional amendment that would strengthen an existing law against same-sex marriage. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

Among very young, Obama’s the one

NEW YORK — It’s a landslide for President Obama — at least among people too young to vote.

Nickelodeon’s Linda Ellerbee said Monday that the president captured 65 percent of the vote to beat Republican Mitt Romney in the network’s ‘‘Kids Pick the President’’ vote. More than 520,000 people cast online ballots through the children’s network’s website over one week earlier this month.

Since it began in 1988, the kids have presaged the adults’ vote all but once, when more youngsters voted for John Kerry than George W. Bush in 2004.

Obama answered questions submitted by Nickelodeon viewers for a special earlier this month. Romney didn’t participate. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

Outside groups spending like congressional campaigns

WASHINGTON — Outside political groups are spending nearly the same as congressional campaigns themselves in about two dozen competitive elections this year.

A study released Monday finds super PACs and other independent groups dropped about $24.8 million on ads affecting the 25 most-competitive House races.

That’s compared with about $24.9 million that the candidates’ own campaigns have spent on ads over the airwaves.

New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice finds the phenomenon affects both Democrats and Republicans.

It also finds Democratic candidates are more often reliant on donors who give in smaller amounts.

Super PACs are flourishing this election with rules that allow them to raise and spend unlimited sums of cash, loosened by a Supreme Court decision.

Those groups and other nonprofit organizations are driving the presidential election alone to cost about $2 billion. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

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