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Final national NBC/WSJ poll before Tuesday: Obama 48 percent, Romney 47 percent

Jason Reed / Reuters

President Barack Obama campaigns at McArthur High School in Hollywood, Fla. on Nov. 4, 2012.

With just two days until Election Day, President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney are running neck and neck nationally, according to the final national NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll before the election.

Obama gets support from 48 percent of likely voters, while Romney gets 47 percent.

Read the full poll here (.pdf)

A new NBC poll should give both presidential campaigns reason to hope. Obama comes in at 48 percent; Romney at 47 percent. Taking Sandy into account, 80 percent in the Northeast said they approved of the president's handling of Superstorm Sandy. NBC's Chuck Todd reports.

In the NBC/WSJ poll released two weeks ago, the two candidates were deadlocked at 47 percent each.

“This poll is reflecting a very, very close campaign nationally,” says Republican pollster Bill McInturff, who conducted this survey with Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart.

“It’s a dead heat,” Hart adds. “This election is going to be decided by turnout, turnout, turnout.”

While both Obama and Romney are running virtually even in this national poll, a majority of surveys from the battleground states – especially in the crucial battlegrounds of Iowa, Ohio and Wisconsin – show the president with a slight advantage.

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Good news for Obama: Two-thirds approve of hurricane handling
The NBC/WSJ poll – conducted Nov. 1-3 – contains good news for both Obama and Romney in the final days of the campaign.

For Obama, 41 percent of likely voters say that what they have read, heard, and seen over the past couple of weeks have given them a  more favorable impression of president, compared to 40 percent who said it had given them a less favorable impression – which is up from his 38-to-43 percent score on this question two weeks ago.

Read our memo on our 'likely voter' methodology (.pdf)

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Part of that more favorable impression is due to his handling of Hurricane Sandy, of which 67 percent of likely voters approve.

By comparison, 45 percent of voters say they have say they have a less favorable impression of Romney from what they have read, heard and seen over the past couple of weeks, versus 40 percent who have a more favorable view.

Yet two weeks ago – fresh off his debate performances – Romney’s score here was tied, 44 percent more favorable, and 44 percent less favorable.

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Comparing 2012 to 2004
In addition, Obama’s numbers in this poll look almost identical to George W. Bush’s in the final NBC/WSJ before the 2004 presidential election, which Bush ended up winning 51 percent to 48 percent.

Obama’s approval rating among likely voters stands at 49 percent – exactly matching Bush’s 49 percent approval in the final 2004 NBC/WSJ poll.

Forty-two percent say the country is headed in the right direction, versus 41 percent who said the same thing in late Oct. 2004.

And the head-to-head score between Obama and Romney – 48 percent to 47 percent – is identical to what it was in the final NBC/WSJ poll before the 2004 election: Bush 48 percent, Democrat John Kerry 47 percent.

“The comparisons between 2004 and 2012 are haunting,” McInturff says.

Good news for Romney: Comfort level, the economy
The good news for Romney in this national poll is that 53 percent of likely voters are comfortable with the idea of him as president, which ties Obama’s percentage on this question (although 39 percent are “very comfortable” with Obama versus 26 percent who are “very comfortable” with Romney).

Also, Romney is ahead of Obama among independents, 47 percent to 40 percent.

And the former Massachusetts governor leads Obama by five points on which candidate is better prepared to create jobs and grow the economy, 47 percent to 42 percent.

However, a majority of voters in the survey – 52 percent – say the economy is recovering.

The NBC/WSJ poll was conducted Nov. 1-3 of 1,475 likely voters (including 443 cell phone-only respondents), and it has a margin of error of plus-minus 2.55 percentage points.