Guy Benson

As Americans prepare for the first of three presidential debates this evening in Denver, a nationwide poll of likely voters released last night shows an exact dead heat.  Via National Journal:
 

President Obama and Mitt Romney are deadlocked among likely voters as they prepare to square off in their first presidential debate, according to the latest United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll. The survey showed that voters remain resistant to either Obama or Romney holding full control of the federal government. Obama and Romney each pulled in 47 percent support in the poll among likely voters. It is among the narrowest margins of several presidential surveys published ahead of the debate this week. Other polls have shown the president with a slim lead. Romney led in the poll among independents, 49 percent to 41 percent, with both candidates winning more than 90 percent support from their respective parties. The survey had Obama winning 81 percent of the nonwhite vote and Romney carrying 55 percent of white voters.


As we've seen in other polling this week, Romney is ahead with indies, but tied or trailing overall.  How can this be?  Check out NJ's description of their sample:
 

In estimating the turnout on Nov. 6, the poll projects an electorate that is 74 percent white, 11 percent African-American, and 8 percent Latino. The likely-voter party splits are 36 percent Democratic, 29 percent Republican, and 30 percent independent. The estimates are similar to the 2008 turnout, when, according to CNN exit polling, 74 percent of voters were white, 13 percent black, and 9 percent Latino, with Democratic turnout at 39 percent, Republicans at 32 percent, and independents at 29 percent.


D+7, just like 2008.  For reference, the 2004 electorate was D+0, as it was in 2010.  The $16 trillion question is whether 2012's final partisan breakdown will closely resemble the last cycle's (in which case Obama wins), or the previous one's (Romney would be golden).  In all likelihood, it'll be somewhere in the middle (D+2 - D+4), which is what the Romney campaign is anticipating.  I'll leave you with one nugget from NBC/WSJ's latest poll, which has the race within the margin of error.  That, by the way, is not a bad result considering how horrific that particular poll has been for Romney over a period of months.  In any case, the conventional wisdom is that debates don't matter.  Might the public beg to differ?
 


Romney's absolutely within striking distance, if not on the doorstep, and it appears that there may be more 'persuadables' than initially thought.  A big moment in this campaign is mere hours away...


Guy Benson

Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Senior Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography