GUY RAZ, HOST:
OK, let's go back to that poll I just mentioned. According to the Pew Research Center's final poll - released just a short time ago - President Obama has edged ahead of Mitt Romney, 50 percent to 47 percent.
Andy Kohut is Pew's president. He's with me now. And Andy, give us more details about your findings.
ANDREW KOHUT: Well, a week ago, among our sample of likely voters, we had 47 percent for Obama...
RAZ: Dead even.
KOHUT: ...47 percent for Romney. Dead even. Our survey of likely voters finds 48 percent for Obama, 45 percent for Romney - a statistically significant lead. And when we allocate the undecideds based upon a number of indicators in our models, we continue to get a three-point - 50 to 47 - edge for Obama. And that would be our projection of the popular vote, as best we can do it here two days before the election.
RAZ: What accounts for the change from last week, when it was a dead heat?
KOHUT: Well, part of it probably has to do with Obama's handling of the hurricane. Two-thirds of the likely voters we questioned, said they approved of the way he handled it; even a plurality of Republicans said so. And more importantly, 63 percent of the swing voters said they approved of Obama's dealing with this issue. So that's one thing.
Secondly, we've seen since early October - following that first debate - Obama gradually beginning to come back. He had drawn even by last weekend but now, he's edged ahead. And I want to put the emphasis on edge. We still have 11 percent of the sample saying, you know, we could possibly change our mind. And we know from the exit polls - which we'll be looking at Tuesday night - that many people do make up their minds at the last moment. So this is our projection, and our projections have been pretty good. But there's always the possibility that things could change.
RAZ: And we should mention: In 2008, you were exactly right.
KOHUT: We were exactly right in 2008. We were exactly right in 2004. And in terms of the popular vote for Congress, we were right in '06 and '10. So we have a pretty good record. This is a tougher election, though. People are conflicted about these candidates, and it's harder for the polls to come away with a consensus forecast of where this thing is going. But this is what we find.
RAZ: Andy, you guys were interviewing people up until last night; almost 3,000 people - you sampled for this poll. Talk a little bit about strength of support because according to your poll, Obama also leads Romney when it comes to the strength of those who support him.
KOHUT: Thirty-nine percent of Obama's supporters say they strongly support him. Only 32 percent of Romney supporters say they strongly support him. Now, in the last 12 national elections - going back to 1960 - in nine of the 12 elections, the candidate who has the most strong support wins the popular vote. The exceptions were Nixon, in 1960; Carter, who didn't win the strong contest but did win the election; and President Bush in 2000, who did not win the popular vote.
RAZ: Popular vote, yeah. Interestingly, when you asked voters who they think will win, 52 percent say Obama; just 32 percent say Romney.
KOHUT: Yes. That has been pretty consistent through this election. Obama is seen by average voters as the likely winner of the next election. That's another measure that's been a pretty good indicator of who will win the election; that is, the candidate that the electorate thinks will win, generally does win.
RAZ: Andy, what does the data tell us about who the Obama supporters are, and who the Romney supporters are?
KOHUT: Well, white voters are voting on balance for Romney. Men are voting for Romney. Older people are voting for Romney. But all of their demographic counterpoints - women, younger voters, non-whites - are voting for Barack Obama. Also, there's a difference by - on the basis of income. More-affluent people are voting for Romney; less-affluent people are voting for Barack Obama.
RAZ: That's Andy Kohut. He's president of the Pew Research Center. Their final pre-election poll shows President Obama leading Mitt Romney, 50 to 47 percent. Andy, thanks.
KOHUT: You're welcome, Guy.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.