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Mitt Romney has pulled ahead of President Barack Obama in the Omaha-based 2nd Congressional District, according to The World-Herald Poll.
Five weeks ago, Romney and Obama were tied in the 2nd District, where Obama managed to win a rare lone Democratic electoral vote in GOP-dominated Nebraska four years ago. Last week, however, Republican nominee Romney led by 5 percentage points.
The district's electoral vote could be significant nationally in what is shaping up to be a close election. Maine and Nebraska are the only states that award electoral votes by congressional district.
The latest World-Herald Poll surveyed 800 voters statewide and was conducted Oct. 23-25.
Across Nebraska, Romney continues to have a strong lead over Obama. The former Massachusetts governor is up by 14 percentage points — a margin that remains as large when the survey is narrowed to likely voters.
Obama continues to be unpopular in Nebraska. His job approval and favorability ratings in the latest poll were both at 40 percent.
The poll revealed an increasingly sharp gender gap in the Nebraska presidential race, mirroring national trends.
In Nebraska, Obama and Romney were tied last week among women, with each candidate garnering 46 percent support. That was a change from September, when Nebraska women had favored Romney, 49 percent to 42 percent.
Among Nebraska men, Romney had nearly twice as much support last week as Obama — 59 percent to 31 percent. In fact, his lead among the state's male voters has increased significantly since the September poll.
Obama was most competitive in the 2nd District, where he narrowly edged John McCain in 2008. But Romney has moved ahead recently as more of the district's voters apparently have made up their minds.
In September, The World-Herald Poll showed both candidates with 44 percent support in the 2nd District. That survey was taken Sept. 17-20, a period that coincided with heavy coverage of Romney's controversial “47 percent” remarks at a May fundraiser. It was a time when Obama seemed to be trending upward nationally and Romney's campaign was struggling.
Since then, however, there have been three presidential debates, including one where Romney was considered the winner. Romney's standing in national polls has gone up, and so has his favorability rating in The World-Herald Poll.
Last week, Romney led Obama in the 2nd District by 49 percent to 44 percent. Among likely voters, Romney's lead in the district was nearly the same: 50 percent to 45 percent.
In short, Romney has gained in the 2nd District while Obama has stood still. And unlike four years ago, Obama is running a less active campaign in the Omaha area.
In 2008, Obama opened three local campaign offices and hired more than a dozen full-time workers. This year, his campaign has opened only one office.
Last week's poll was conducted by Wiese Research Associates of Omaha. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
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