Women have propelled President Obama to a widening lead over Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney in a dozen swing states, according to a poll released Monday.
The USA Today/Gallup Poll found Obama now enjoys a nine-point advantage over Romney, 51 percent to 42 percent. A month ago, the same poll showed the former Massachusetts governor with a two-point edge over the president.
Much of Obama’s surge could be attributed to a widening gender gap. Women support Obama over Romney, 54 percent to 36 percent, the poll found. Romney’s narrow, 48-47 lead among men is within the poll’s margin of error.
The disparity between the sexes was even more pronounced when coupled with age. More than 60 percent of women under 50 support Obama, while only 30 percent said they would vote for Romney. Men over 50 back Romney, 56-38.
Male and female candidate preferences mirrored their prioritization of campaign issues. The poll found men identified the federal deficit and national debt as the campaign’s number one issue. Romney is running largely on his reputation as a fiscally savvy turnaround artist.
Women said health care is the most important issue in the campaign. Obama in 2010 led passage of a health care reform law, which Romney has vowed to repeal if elected. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the constitutionality of the law in June.
The swing states surveyed are Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin.