WASHINGTON - As Republicans gathered on Monday in Tampa, Florida, for the party convention to officially nominate Mitt Romney as their Presidential candidate, a new poll said he and President Barack Obama are neck-and-neck in their race for the White House.

Romney edges President Obama 47 per cent to 46 among registered voters, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released on Monday, well within the poll’s 4 percentage point margin of error. The same poll from early July showed the candidates deadlocked at 47.

The Real Clear Politics average of polls is just as close, now showing Obama with a 47-46 lead.

Republicans have talked about the importance of “telling Mitt Romney’s story” while reintroducing the candidate at the Republican National Convention this week, and the poll indicates this will be critical — President Obama has a huge lead over Romney in likability, 61 per cent to 27 per cent.

The social issues that have sidetracked the Republican message in recent weeks also play into Obama’s hands, as he has double-digit leads on social and women’s issues.

But despite the recent focus on those matters, a majority of voters still say the economy is the No. 1 issue, and here Romney holds a 7-point advantage. Romney is also the clear leader on who would do a better job reducing the deficit.

President Obama has a positive approval rating in the poll, at 50 positive and 46 negative, which is where former President George W. Bush was at this time in 2004.

For Romney, tapping Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate has helped him close the enthusiasm gap on the President. Obama once led by 25 percentage points on enthusiasm and held a 13-point advantage as recently as July. That lead has been cut to 48-42, according to the poll.

The survey of 1,002 adults was conducted on August 25th.