Mitt Romney has pulled even with President Obama in New Hampshire, according to a poll released late Monday by the Suffolk University Political Research Center.
Romney had been fading in the Granite State before his spirited effort in the first presidential debate two weeks ago. A poll published on Oct. 1 by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center showed Obama with a 15-point lead.
Last week, a UNH poll conducted partly before and partly after the debate in Denver gave the president only a 6-point edge.
Now, the Suffolk poll, taken entirely after the first presidential debate and the lone vice presidential debate, shows Romney tied with Obama at 47 percent. The survey included 500 likely voters and had a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.
The Suffolk poll showed Romney with a slight edge on handling the economy, 45 percent to 42 percent, but Obama led on foreign policy, 46-42. Those two subjects are likely to figure prominently in the second presidential debate on Tuesday night in Hempstead, N.Y.
Six percent of New Hampshire voters said they remain undecided or plan to vote for Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson. By an almost 4-to-1 ratio, members of this small group who expressed a preference said they would vote for Romney over Obama, if those two candidates were the only ones on the ballot. If these “leaners” were included in the poll, Romney would lead Obama, 50 percent to 48 percent.
“Politics is full of ironies,” said David Paleologos, director of the Boston-based Suffolk polling agency. “Gary Johnson voters are predisposed to voting against the incumbent president, but Johnson’s presence on the New Hampshire presidential ballot is actually helping Obama. Those anti-incumbent voters -- at least right now -- aren’t finding their way to Mitt Romney.”