By John Whitesides
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's lead over Republican Mitt Romney dipped slightly to five percentage points ahead of next week's first debate in the race for the White House, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Friday.
Obama leads Romney among likely voters by 47 percent to 42 percent in the daily online tracking poll, down from Thursday's 7-point advantage of 49 percent to 42 percent.
"I don't think this is a big worry for Obama, but it does support what we've been saying all along - this is going to be a close race," Ipsos pollster Julia Clark said.
"I expect we're going to start seeing these numbers move even closer as we get nearer to Election Day," she said.
The two White House contenders meet on Wednesday in the first of three debates that will set the tone for the final five-week sprint to the November 6 election.
Obama has opened up a measurable lead over Romney in most national polls and in surveys of key swing states that could ultimately decide the election.
But Romney stabilized his reeling campaign in the last week after several recent setbacks, most notably the release of a secretly recorded video showing him telling wealthy donors that Obama supporters were government-dependent victims who did not pay taxes.
The Reuters/Ipsos tracking poll has found Obama's ratings slipping over the past week on a range of personal attributes, although he still leads Romney in all categories except "being a man of faith."
Obama lost ground on attributes like "understands people like me", where he is down four points from 46 percent to 42 percent, and "is a good person," which is down four points from 47 percent to 43 percent.
Romney's personal ratings remained steady on most attributed, although he declined three points to 21 percent on "would be fun to meet in person."
The precision of the Reuters/Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of 3.8 percentage points for likely voters and 3.5 percentage points for registered voters.
(Editing by Alistair Bell and Philip Barbara)