While Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has erased President Barack Obama's overall poll lead, the Democrat remains ahead on some core issues such as healthcare and voters would still rather spend time with Obama than with Romney.
Romney, however, has narrowed the gap on "likability" as well as on how "presidential" he is compared to Obama.
The shifting numbers in a Reuters/Ipsos poll hint at where the two candidates are vulnerable in Tuesday's town hall debate in Hempstead, New York.
Romney's position in the horse race improved after the first debate in Denver on October 3, with the Republican drawing level in national polls. He has also taken a decisive lead on the federal government deficit: Americans now prefer his plan to Obama's by an eight-point margin, whereas Obama led by one in the week before the debate.
Obama now leads Romney by eight points on healthcare, and by nine on Medicare, down from pre-debate levels of 12 and 14, respectively. On one social issue that was not raised in Denver, gay marriage, Obama leads by 19 points, up by two points since before the debate.
Still, Romney's performance in Colorado did help narrow the gap in measures of personality and presentation, weakening what were previously unquestioned Obama leads.