The latest snapshot poll from the New York Times/CBS News shows Mitt Romney in a statistical tie with the president, leading 45-43%.
This despite weeks of unending attacks on Romney on his tax returns, Bain Capital, and his personal wealth.
Obama is not gaining much traction with these attacks because the voters believe the economy is sinking.
Despite months of negative advertising from Mr. Obama and his Democratic allies seeking to further define Mr. Romney as out of touch with the middle class and representative of wealthy interests, the poll shows little evidence of any substantial nationwide shift in attitudes about Mr. Romney.
But with job growth tailing off since spring and the Federal Reserve chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, wondering aloud whether the labor market is "stuck in the mud," the poll showed a significant shift in opinion about Mr. Obama's handling of the economy, with 39 percent now saying they approved and 55 percent saying they disapproved.
In the Times/CBS poll in April, when the economy seemed to have momentum, 44 percent approved and 48 percent disapproved.
The new poll shows that the race remains essentially tied, notwithstanding all of the Washington chatter suggesting that Mr. Romney's campaign has seemed off-kilter amid attacks on his tenure at Bain Capital and his unwillingness to release more of his tax returns. Forty-five percent say they would vote for Mr. Romney if the election were held now and 43 percent say they would vote for Mr. Obama.
Good news for Romney comes from Virginia where the latest Quinnipiac poll shows Romney and Obama tied. That's a 5 point swing in Romney's favor since June. And a poll in New Mexico shows Romney closing the gap there as well. The PPP survey shows a 5 point lead for Obama when previous polls had the president with a 14-15 point lead.
These mid-July snapshots of the race are significant as straws in the wind. The lead up to the party conventions late next month will see whether ad buys in key states are affecting the race and how both candidates are weathering attacks.