Elon, N.C. — With eight days to go before the election, President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney are virtually tied in North Carolina, according to a poll released Monday.
The Elon University Poll surveyed 1,238 likely voters statewide between Oct. 21 and Oct. 26 and found that Obama and Romney each attracted 45 percent support, with 5 percent still undecided. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points.
An August poll by Elon University had Romney in front by 4 percentage points.
In the latest poll, 51 percent of respondents said Romney would do a better job handling the U.S. economy, compared with 42 percent for Obama. Still, 45 percent said the president has a better vision for addressing the nation's problems, compared with 41 percent for Romney.
"The economy is the most prominent issue of the election and is an important reason why Mitt Romney is in a tight race with the incumbent president,” Kenneth Fernandez, director of the Elon University Poll, said in a statement. “But respondents also seem to have a growing optimism about the economy. More people believe the economy will improve over the next year, and those optimists are more likely to vote for Barack Obama.”
Almost half of those polled said the U.S. economy would be better next year, while only 8 percent said it would get worse. Twenty-nine percent said they expect it to continue sputtering along at the same pace.
Obama outpolled Romney in all other areas, although some were within the margin of error. He leads 52 to 42 percent on foreign policy, 50 to 43 percent on health care, 47 to 45 percent on immigration and 47 to 46 percent on national security.
Also, 46 percent of those polled said they trust Obama more, compared with 38 percent who said Romney was more trustworthy. Respondents said Obama shared their values more than Romney, by 47 to 45 percent.
Forty-nine percent of respondents said they believe Romney will raise taxes on the middle class, compared with 37 percent who believe Obama will raise taxes.
The poll also showed that Republican Pat McCrory should win North Carolina's gubernatorial election handily over Democratic Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton. McCrory was favored by 52 percent of respondents, compared with 38 percent for Dalton. Eight percent remain undecided.