Mitt Romney has narrowed the gap vs. President Obama in the latest IBD/TIPP poll, which showed that the Democratic National Convention may have failed to excite single women.
Obama led 46%-44% in the September survey of registered voters after a much-wider 46%-39% advantage a month earlier. The president has consistently led his Republican rival but hasn't been able to crack 46%.
The results suggest that the Obama campaign's attempt to use the convention to boost turnout among single women was ineffective. The parade of Sandra Fluke, Lilly Ledbetter and Nancy Keenan, among other feminist speakers, did not move the needle for single women. Obama led Romney among that group 57%-30% in the latest poll, virtually identical to his 56%-29% lead in August.
"I think what the Democrats are hoping for is not that the support goes up so much as they can increase turnout among that group. Single women are a vital group for the Democrats," said Karlyn Bowman a senior fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. "The reason Democrats lost control of the House in 2010 was a drop in turnout among single women."
But the poll suggests Obama has a ways to go to ensure their turnout. Just 79% of single women said they were very likely to vote vs. 94% of married women. Romney leads among married women 50%-45%.
Romney also leads among men 48%-40%, including a 57%-30% advantage among white men.
The DNC emphasis on contraception and abortion may have pushed some religious voters away. Catholics favored Obama just 46%-44%. In 2008, Obama won this key swing group by nine points over John McCain.
There was some good news for Obama. As the survey went on, his support improved, especially immediately after the Democrat convention, says Raghavan Mayur, president of TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence, which conducted the poll.
The poll began the first day of the convention on Sept. 4 and finished Sept. 9. It included 808 registered voters and has a margin of error of 3.5%.
Romney also showed improvement in his one crucial area: likability. Romney is now liked by 50% of respondents vs. 43% who dislike him. In August, those numbers were 37% vs. 50%.
"Romney's personal side was shown in the Republican convention and that seems to have worked," said Mayur.
Views of Romney's economic policies improved, though they are still negative. Forty-five percent of respondents approve vs. 48% who disapprove. It was 37% vs. 53% in August.
Mayur also attributed that to the GOP convention, but said Romney must provide more details of his ideas if he wants those numbers to continue improving.
As for Obama, just 37% of respondents give him good grades on his handling of the economy vs. 42% who give him bad marks.
The U.S. economy added just 96,000 jobs in August, below estimates and the fourth month in five below 100,000, the Labor Department reported last Friday.
The IBD/TIPP Presidential Leadership Index fell 0.8 point in September to 49, the lowest since February.
IBD/TIPP has been the most accurate poll of the last two presidential election cycles.