DES MOINES, Iowa (Official Wire) — Barack Obama volunteer Marilynn Wadden rang more than a dozen doorbells in her first hour canvassing a tidy neighborhood here before stopping to take stock of her progress. Only a handful of voters were home, and, of them, only one agreed to have a ballot mailed to him so he can vote early. Two people said they supported the president but preferred to vote on Election Day. And another said he would back Mitt Romney.

“I wouldn’t do this for pay. It’d be too discouraging,” Wadden, a 70-year-old retired principal, said. She added that she works to re-elect the president “because in my heart I know how important this is.”

If the race is close here and elsewhere, the outcome may come down to how well Obama volunteers like Wadden do their jobs — compelling everyone they can to go to the polls, especially those who are leaning Obama’s way, but not a sure thing.

National and state polls taken before the first debate show Obama with a comfortable lead over Romney among Americans who are registered to vote. But the surveys also show Obama is locked in a tight race with the Republican among likely voters, a disparity that underscores the importance that turnout efforts will play in determining who wins the White House.

The latest Associated Press-GfK poll, for instance, found Obama with a commanding lead, favored by 52 percent of Americans to just 37 percent for Romney. Yet among those most likely to vote, the race was statistically tied, with Obama supported by 47 percent of likely voters and Romney by 46 percent. In Florida, a recent Washington Post poll showed the president ahead by 9 percentage points among all registered voters but up by just 4 percentage points among likely voters.

Read more at Official Wire. By Philip Elliott.

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