Republican convention helps Romney pull even with Obama

TAMPA, Florida Wed Aug 29, 2012 4:30pm EDT

1 of 3. Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney takes the stage to address the American Legion's national convention in Indianapolis, Indiana August 29, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Brian Snyder

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TAMPA, Florida (Reuters) - Republican Mitt Romney pulled even with President Barack Obama in a Reuters/Ipsos poll on Wednesday, getting a boost from his party's nominating convention in Tampa this week.

In a four-day rolling poll, Romney and Obama were deadlocked among likely voters at 43 percent each. That was an improvement for Romney from Obama's two-point lead on Tuesday and four-point lead on Monday.

"There is movement toward Romney, which is traditional for a convention," Ipsos pollster Julia Clark said. "It's small and the change is incremental, but it's been moving the last couple of days."

Nominating conventions typically provide at least a small bump in polls for presidential candidates, who use the gatherings as platforms to sell their message directly to voters.

On the first full day of the storm-delayed convention on Tuesday, Republican speakers lashed out at Obama's record and portrayed Romney as a leader who could make tough choices and rescue the ailing economy.

Romney appeared on stage briefly to join his wife, Ann, after she gave a speech presenting a softer side of the presidential contender for the thousands of convention delegates in Tampa and for a national television audience.

The poll found 74 percent of registered voters had heard at least something about the convention. Among Republicans, that number went up to 84 percent, while 70 percent of independents have heard something about the convention.

Of those who have heard about the convention, a slight majority, 51 percent, gave it an average rating, while 28 percent thought it was going well and 21 percent thought it was going poorly.

"The convention is being seen and heard," Clark said. "We can credibly say the slight change in the numbers can be attributed to the convention."

Voters find Obama more likable than Romney by a sizeable margin - 50 percent to 29 percent. Obama was also seen as more eloquent and more of "a good person." On who was tough enough for the job, the two candidates tied, at 37 percent each.

Roughly equal numbers of registered voters view the two candidates favorably, with Obama getting a favorable rating from 51 percent and Romney viewed favorably by 50 percent.

Romney and Obama have been running close in most national polls ahead of the November 6 election for the White House. Romney was formally nominated on Tuesday at the Republican convention, which will conclude with Romney's acceptance speech on Thursday.

Obama will accept the Democratic nomination for a second term in the White House at his party's convention next week in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Clark said both candidates still have room to improve their favorability ratings at the conventions, which are designed to present the most positive image possible to the public.

"Conventions are about launching the candidate, getting some momentum and improving a candidate's likability," Clark said.

Pollsters interviewed 1,545 likely voters over four days in the online survey. The precision of the Reuters/Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points for all respondents.

(Editing by Alistair Bell and Leslie Adler)

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