A renewed focus on social issues would be an unwelcome development for Romney: Among female likely voters, 55 percent say Obama would make the right decisions on women's issues, compared with 41 percent who think Romney would.
Romney's pitch to women has been focused squarely on the economy, making the case that what women want most is to ensure their families and their country are on a solid financial footing. The poll shows that message appears to be taking root.
A month ago, women favored Obama over Romney on the economy 56 percent to 40 percent. Now, the split has shifted to 49 percent for Romney and 45 percent for Obama.
Similarly, Obama's lead among women as the candidate who better understands the people's problems has narrowed considerably, from a 58-36 Obama advantage last month to a 50-43 Obama edge now.
Monica Jensen, a 55-year-old independent from Mobile, Ala., says she voted for Obama in 2008 but will shift her vote to Romney this time, largely because of the economy.
"I'm ready for a change," she said. "I want to see the economy go in a different direction."
Ginny Lewis, a Democrat and 72-year-old retired district attorney from Princeton, Ky., says she'll vote for Romney because "I'm tired of the Republicans blaming all the debt on Democrats, so let them take over and see what they do."
Not that she's optimistic about how that will turn out, though. "I think things will get worse before they get better," she said.
Lindsey Hornbaker, a 25-year-old graduate student and nanny, hasn't been swayed by Romney's charm offensive.
Hornbaker, interviewed Wednesday in Davenport, Iowa, where she was attending an Obama rally, said Romney can tweak his tone but not what she sees as a record focused far more on top income earners and out of touch with most working families.