USA TODAY/Gallup released a poll today that shows that one of the least likely groups is moving Mitt Romney towards victory. The poll reported that Mitt Romney leads President Obama by five percentage points in the crucial battleground states and the group that is driving the push for Romney appears to be women, a group thought to widely support Obama.

The poll surveyed voters in the 12 states believed to control the outcome of the election and found that female voters are becoming much more focused on the upcoming election and are increasingly concerned about the deficit and debt, issues favoring Romney.

After the Obama campaign pushed the Romney “war on women” month-after-month the Governor is now tied nationally among women who are likely voters at 48 percent and leads Obama by 12 points among men.

Democratic pollster Celinda Lake said “In every poll, we’ve seen a major surge among women in favorability for Romney” since the first debate.

“Women went into the debate actively disliking Romney, and they came out thinking he might understand their lives and might be able to get something done for them.”

In 2008 Obama had a commanding 13 point lead over John McCain with female voters; a tie, or even a close battle for the women’s vote would insure a Romney victory. Obama took the presidency by only a single point advantage among male voters whereas Romney’s strong 12 point lead with men means Obama must have a large female vote margin for any chance of re-election.

In the critical swing states of Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin, Romney leads Obama 51 to 46 percent among all likely voters; male likely voters in those same states back Romney 54 to 42 percent.

The news couldn’t be worse for President Obama.

Tufts University political scientist Richard Eichenberg said Romney’s improved standing among female voters is “likely to cause major consternation among Obama supporters. If Mr. Romney has tied President Obama among women in swing states, then he has likely taken a step toward winning the election.”

Obama loses advantage with women

A large part of Romney advantage comes from Republicans being far more enthusiastic about voting than Democrats; the enthusiasm factor has a strong effect on who will actually show up at the polls in November.

The USA TODAY/Gallup findings are in-line with a nationwide Pew Research Center Poll taken after the first presidential debate and released last week where they found that Obama’s 18-point lead among women in mid-September evaporated in less than a month.

The poll will have an impact on the upcoming debate. Expect Obama to focus on abortion and government supplied birth control as the clock ticks down to Election Day, now only 22 days away.

Tomorrow night’s debate is likely Obama’s last chance to reverse Romney’s momentum but doing so will take a delicate hand; Obama must be forceful without seeming disrespectful, as Biden did in the VP debate and the president has shown that balancing act is not one of his strong suits.

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