Washington: Even as President Barack Obama won the endorsement of 68 Nobel laureates and newspapers in four key battleground states, a new national poll shows the race for the White House in a dead heat.
With just 15 days to go until Election Day, the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released on Sunday shows both Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney with 47 percent support among likely voters.
The survey`s margin of error is plus or minus 3.43 percentage points for that group.
Among the larger pool of registered voters surveyed in the NBC/WSJ poll after the October 16 second presidential debate, Obama holds a five-point advantage, 49 percent to Romney`s 44 percent. The margin of error for that larger group is 3.1 percentage points.
The last NBC/WSJ survey - taken before any of October`s presidential debates - showed the President with a slight advantage over his Republican challenger by three points, 49 percent to Romney`s 46 percent, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.
The difference in the surveys suggests Obama`s advantage is slipping and that Romney`s debate performances may have had an effect.
The race now has all the makings of one of the closest in US history and could mirror the down-to-the-wire contest in 2004 between president George W Bush and Senator John Kerry, the Journal said.
Eight years ago, those two candidates also were deadlocked in Journal polling in late October, 48 percent to 48 percent.
The closeness of the race is vividly illustrated in the raw numbers. Among the survey`s pool of 816 likely voters, Romney led by exactly three voters, it noted.
"This race is as tight as a tick," Democratic pollster Peter Hart, who conducts the Journal poll along with his Republican colleague, Bill McInturff, was quoted as saying.
The poll`s “one inescapable conclusion”, Hart said, "is that Romney is dominating the macro message on the economy, while Obama is dominating the micro messaging on women issues, likability and the middle class."
Meanwhile, 68 Nobel laureates in the science fields, including the two Americans who won this year`s chemistry prize, have signed a letter endorsing him over Romney, according to the New York Times. "President Obama understands the key role science has played in building a prosperous US," they wrote.
Romney "supports a budget that, if implemented, would devastate a long tradition of support for research and investment in science at a time when US` future depends, as never before, on innovation", they said.
Obama on Sunday also won newspaper endorsements in key battleground states of Colorado (9 electoral votes), North Carolina (15), Ohio (18) and New Mexico (5) with a total of 47 electoral votes in the 538 delegate electoral college. It takes 270 electoral votes to win the White House.
The endorsements came from the Durango Herald in Colorado, the Asheville Citizen Times in North Carolina, The Akron Beacon Journal of Ohio and the Santa Fe New Mexican in New Mexico.