President Obama and Mitt Romney remain locked in a near-even race for the White House on the eve of Election Day, according to the last NBC/Wall Street Journal pre-election poll.
President Obama drew 48% to Mr. Romney's 47% among likely voters. The telephone survey of 1,475 likely voters, conducted Nov. 1-3, carries a margin for error of 2.55 percentage points.
The incumbent's hairs-breadth lead stems from his 51%-43% lead among women. Mr. Romney holds a comparable 51%-44% lead among men, but men remain a slightly smaller proportion of the electorate.
The even race reflects the country's near-even split on the Democratic incumbent's performance in office. Some 49% of voters approve his handling of his job; an identical 49% approves.
Mr. Obama retains a slightly more positive personal image. By 49% to 45%, voters express favorable views of the president.
Some 45% express favorable views of Mr. Romney, comparied to 44% who regard him unfavorably. That reflects an improvement in Mr. Romney's standing during the course of the campaign's homestretch.
The two candidates' near parity nationally is reflected in their different strengths on key issues. On creating jobs and improving the economy, Mr. Romney, a former Bain Capital executive, holds a 47% to 42% edge.
But on who's better prepared to lead the country, Mr. Obama holds a 46% to 42% edge.
Mr. Obama holds double-digit advantages on dealing with issues of concern to women and looking out for the middle class. Mr. Obama leads 48% to 42% on being a good commander-in-chief.
But Mr. Romney, who has emphasized his management credentials, leads 46% to 41% on being an effective leader who can get things done.
One late-developing concern that may be aiding Mr. Obama is the high marks he receives for handling the
Two-thirds of likely voters approve of the way he has dealt with the storm; just 16% disapprove.
—By CNBC's John Harwood