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2012: Obama maintains his lead

The latest polls: In a Washington Post-ABC poll, Obama leads 49-47% among likely voters, but Obama’s up by 12 points in swing states, 52-41%; A Politico/GW poll also has Obama up 49-47%. In the states: Iowa: Obama’s up 49-45% in the Des Moines Register’s latest; Ohio: A Columbus Dispatch poll has Obama up 51-42%; Arizona: HighGround shows Romney up 46-42%.

A Lake/Conway poll (for the YWCA) finds Obama up with women, 49-31%, per Political Wire.

A Rand study/survey of the same panel of 3,500 voters over months shows Obama now up 50-43% when the race had been tied “until Sept. 7, the day after former President Clinton spoke at the Democratic National Convention,” the L.A. Times writes. Critics of the survey’s methodology say it is good for longitudinal research but not to gauge a random sampling of voters because these voters wind up paying more attention to the day-to-day ins and outs of the campaign.

“If the election were held today, an Associated Press analysis shows Obama would win at least 271 electoral votes, with likely victories in crucial Ohio and Iowa along with 19 other states and the District of Columbia. Romney would win 23 states for a total of 206. To oust the Democratic incumbent, Romney would need to take up-for-grabs Florida, Colorado, Nevada, North Carolina, New Hampshire and Virginia, which would put him at 267 votes, and upend Obama in either Ohio or Iowa.”

In Iowa, “Sixty percent of Iowans think the state is headed in the right direction, up 8 points since February, when the Iowa Poll last asked that question,” the Des Moines Register writes. “But Gov. Terry Branstad’s job approval has dropped two points, suggesting Iowans are not giving the Republican credit for their sunnier views about the state.”

AP’s Elliott previews Wednesday’s debate with a look at debate pitfalls. “In the history books … small moments often end up telling the broader story. Think of 73-year-old Ronald Reagan's pledge not to exploit his opponent's youth. Or John McCain's dismissive reference to Barack Obama as simply ‘that one.’”

“Anyone puzzled by the most recent U.S. economic data has reason for feeling so: The numbers sketch a sometimes contradictory picture of the economy,” AP writes.

AP looks at why the fight over abortion and birth control has mattered in this election.

Speaking of, Planned Parenthood has a new TV ad hitting Romney in Colorado.