Mitt Romney or Barack Obama? Suburban voters will pick next president, poll finds

Less than 100 days before the election, Obama

Less than 100 days before the election, Obama and Romney are in a dead heat for the White House among key suburban voters, according to a new poll by the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University. (Credit: AP ; AFP/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney are in a dead heat for the White House among key suburban voters, according to a poll released Wednesday by the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University.

The poll of 844 registered suburban voters nationwide shows Obama and Romney each with 46 percent. The former Massachusetts governor leads among independent voters, 45 percent to 41 percent.

Obama trailed Romney 48 percent to 40 percent among suburban voters in Hofstra's last poll, in November.

With Obama leading among urban voters and Romney winning among rural residents, the suburbs are likely to decide the election, said Lawrence Levy, executive dean of the nonpartisan National Center for Suburban Studies.

"The presidential campaign is up for grabs, with the people [in the suburbs] most likely to decide the outcome," he said.

Roslyn political consultant Brad Gerstman, who has worked with both major political parties, said swing voters "do not want to see fringe ideology on either side. They want to see pragmatic ideas that move the country forward."

The poll, the center's sixth, also surveyed 335 registered urban voters, who favored Obama by a 57 percent to 40 percent margin. Among all registered voters, Obama leads Romney 49 percent to 45 percent, the poll shows. Roughly one in four voters said they could still change their minds.

Obama leads among suburban women, minorities, young voters and those with a college degree or more, the poll shows. Romney has the advantage among men, Caucasians, those 35 and older, and those with some college education.

Obama's support tracks closely with suburbanites' views of the economy.

Among 1,005 suburban residents interviewed, including 844 who are registered to vote and 161 who are not, 33 percent said they were worse off financially than they were four years ago. Only 28 percent said they were doing better, and 37 percent saw no change in their fiscal condition. Those numbers are slightly more optimistic than in past Hofstra polls.

Suburban residents will vote their pocketbooks in November, said Michael Dawidziak, a Bohemia campaign consultant who works primarily with Republicans. "The economy and jobs blow everything else away," he said. "Nothing even comes close."

Said Levy: "This is not your mother and father's suburb. The pain of the recession has reached into areas that were once the most prosperous."

The survey was conducted June 11-28. The margin for error for the total sample is plus or minus 3 percentage points, and 4 percentage points for suburban results.

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