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Decision 2012: Obama, Romney In Dead Heat Among Women Voters In Battleground States

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With the race for president nearly tied in battleground states, every voting bloc is crucial, and recent polls are showing President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are tied for the women’s vote. NY1's Washington reporter Erin Billups filed the following report.

President Barack Obama's nearly double-digit lead over Mitt Romney among women voters may now be all but gone, according to several polls conducted after the first presidential debate.

The most recent, a USA Today/Gallup poll released Monday, shows the candidates tied at 48 percent with women in battleground states, a crucial voting bloc.

"It's vital," says Jennifer Lawless, the director of American University's Women & Politics Institute. "Not only are there only a few votes in play, but there are only a few voters in those few states in play, and a lot of them are suburban women."

The GOP has been pushing back against the image it is waging a "war against women" for months now.

This was accomplished in part by putting the presidential hopeful's wife center stage at their Republican National Convention, when Ann Romney famously said on August 28, “I love you women!”

Ann Romney has also made campaign trail appearances, when she told a crowd of women, "What did they see? A man ready and prepared to lead this country."

Lawless believes it was actually the lack of focus on women that is given Romney a bump among female voters.

"If there's a debate where the issues are not at all about contraception or reproductive rights or pay equity they're not necessarily going to judge the candidates in those terms," says Lawless. "So not addressing those issues, ultimately played into Romney's strengths."

While last week's vice presidential debate did touch on where the candidates stand on abortion, Lawless says the trick for Obama is to link most issues in question back to how his leadership in those areas will help women.

On the other hand, the challenge for Romney will be delivering a compelling argument on how his plans will not hurt women.

"He needs to do everything that he possibly can not to turn off women," Lawless says. "It's unlikely that he'll be able to attract many more than he already has, but he needs to preserve that base in order to win."

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