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NBC/WSJ/Marist poll: Virginia could go either way

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.

Virginia remains a toss up. That’s the takeaway from a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll out from the battleground released Sunday.

Read the full Virginia poll here (.pdf)

Just two days before what is shaping up to be a very tight presidential election, President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney remain in a statistical tie for Virginia's crucial 13 electoral votes. Obama holding a narrow 48 percent to 47 percent edge among likely voters in the commonwealth. (There’s little change with registered voters – Obama’s advantage grows one point, 48 percent to 46 percent.)

Three weeks ago, the results were reversed in the poll, with Romney holding a 48 percent to 47 percent edge.

The president continues to benefit from better feelings about the direction of the country. While more people think that the country is headed in the wrong direction (49 percent) than the right path (46 percent), it's still an improvement from just three weeks ago when the spread was 10 points (53 percent wrong direction, 43 percent right path).

Biden on 'Hardball:' Obama's firewall will hold

That’s a consistent trend seen in the battlegrounds and national polls since Labor Day. Voters had consistently been saying the country was off on the wrong track by much wider margins.

There also continues to be a slight gender gap, with the president leading Romney 51 percent to 45 percent among women, but that chasm has been cut in half since last month.

That’s about the margin Obama won by in Virginia in 2008 over Republican Sen. John McCain – seven points.

But more men said they support the president this month than last. Last month, Romney led by 15 points with men; this month, it’s five points. McCain beat Obama with men by four points in 2008 in Virginia.

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

Obama’s approval is 49 percent, a point better than his ballot score. Seven-in-10 Virginians said they approve of the president’s handling of Hurricane Sandy.

Geography is key to either side’s victory on Tuesday. The president needs to run up big margins in the Washington, D.C., suburbs. He leads there by 17 points, 56 percent to 39 percent. But in the swing Northern Virginia exurbs, Romney holds a narrow edge at 49 percent to 47 percent. Romney also leads by five points in the central/western part of the state, is up eight points in swing Richmond/eastern part of the state, and is tied with Obama in the Tidewater region.

Romney leads by five points with independents, but Obama leads by 12 points with moderates. In 2008, Obama won independents by a point and moderates by 17 points.

In the Senate race, Democrat Tim Kaine continues to edge Republican George Allen 49 percent to 46 percent, a two-point improvement for Kaine.

The poll was conducted Nov. 1-2, interviewed 1,165 likely voters, and has a margin of error of +/- 2.6 percentage points. The party ID in the poll is +3D. In 2008, it was +6D.