(CNN) – President Barack Obama holds a slight advantage over his Republican rival Mitt Romney, according to a poll released Tuesday, though Americans' views on the economy continue to put a damper on the president's bid for a second term in the White House.
Overall, the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showed Obama edging Romney nationally, with 47% of registered voters saying they back the incumbent Democrat and 44% backing his Republican rival. The 3-point margin was within the poll's sampling error.
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Obama's edge nationally was bolstered by strong leads among women, minorities and independents. The president led Romney 52%-39% among women, 52%-35% among Latinos ages 18 to 29 and 40%-36% among independents.
Romney was ahead among white voters, 53%-38%, and men, 48%-43%.
The economy, which voters consistently rate the most important issue, remains a problem for Obama. Fifty-three percent say they disapprove of Obama's handling of the economy, and 33% say Obama's policies have hurt the economy. Another 32% say the president's economic policies haven't made any difference, and 32% say they've helped.
In all, 61% of the respondents said they thought the nation was headed in the wrong direction, which was up three points from an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll last month.
A subset of registered voters in battleground states were questioned about Romney's business background, with the results indicating the former Bain Capital executive is struggling to turn his private equity experience into an asset for his campaign.
The survey showed 33% of voters in 12 battleground states saying what they had read or heard about Romney's business background negatively influenced their view of the candidate, compared with 18% who said the information led them to view Romney more positively. The remainder either felt they didn't have enough information about Romney's private equity career or that the information didn't make a difference.
The battleground states included in the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll were Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.
President Barack Obama's campaign, eager to discredit his Republican rival's business credentials, has used attack ads in some of those states to paint Romney as a corporate raider who eliminated jobs and closed plants during his tenure as chief executive of Bain Capital. Romney's campaign argues the Obama attacks don't take into account Bain's successes.
Those attack ads might be having an effect on Romney's favorability rating in the swing states. Some 30% of the battleground-state voters said they viewed Romney favorably in the poll, compared to 36% who viewed him favorably one month ago.
Nationally, Romney's favorability hasn't taken such a hit. He holds a 33% favorably rating nationally, compared with 34% last month.
The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll was conducted nationally by telephone from 1,000 voters between June 20-24. The sampling error was plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
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