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On cue, whites, independents, evangelicals swing to Romney

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Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets

Further proof that Republican challenger Mitt Romney appears to be peaking at the right time, a new poll finds that he is finally winning the backing of evangelical voters, whites and independents.

John Zogby of JZ Analytics told Secrets that the result is a race so close that it is poised to challenge the 2000 Al Gore-George W. Bush election as the tightest. In that election, Gore won the popular vote but Bush the Electoral Vote and the presidency.

"The election is tracking almost exactly like Gore vs. Bush," he said. "Just when the key states look like a trend, it stops. Romney was building up to a three point lead, but the first real sampling after Hurricane Sandy showed a trend back to Obama."

But in a significant boon for Romney, the latest polling by Zogby found that key groups Romney needs to challenge Obama in the close race are coming home to their Republican roots.

Evangelical Christians, for example, have awakened and are joining Romney, said Zogby. "He has made substantial gains among evangelicals in the past week, hitting the necessary 70 percent just yesterday," said Zogby.

Also, white voters are breaking for Romney in bigger numbers than in the past. He now has the support of 57 percent of whites in the NewsmaxZogby poll, but the pollster said he still needs more to seal the deal.

Independents are also getting behind Romney. Zogby said that Romney has opened up a 9-point lead among independents. A Romney campaign source said they hope to win independents "by double digits" in Ohio.

And significantly for Obama, the president is underperforming among young voters, especially young women, said Zogby.

His polling also reveals that the two are "about even" with early voters, and while Romney leads among "definite voters," the president has a double-digit lead among "very likely" voters. The big question, said Zogby: "We will have to see if the 'very likelies' come out to vote."