Romney, though, trails Obama by 4 points among voters in the dozen battleground states that will likely decide the contest. In those states, the poll found more favorable views towards the president.

For Obama, 54 percent of battleground respondents viewed him favorably to 44 unfavorable. Romney, though, was underwater with the group, at 46 favorable, 49 unfavorable. 

The poll found Romney’s boost overall came thanks to strong gains among independent voters, who now favor the GOP nominee 51 percent to 39. Romney’s strong performance in the first presidential debate, on Oct. 3 in Denver, Colo., likely aided to the gains with independents: 33 percent said the debates made them more likely to vote for Romney, with 28 percent saying they made them more likely to back Obama.

Voters showed concerns over the future of the country, with 55 percent saying the nation was headed on the wrong track and 41 saying it was going in the right direction.

Respondents are primarily focused on the economy, with 57 percent saying economic issues would be most likely to affect their vote. Sixteen percent tabbed fiscal issues and 14 percent identified social issues as most important. National security was the most important issue for 8 percent. 

Voters were also split on Obama’s job performance, with 49 approving and 49 percent disapproving. But they gave him negative marks on the economy, with 47 percent approval and 52 disapproval.

The NPR poll is the latest to show a tight race with both candidates working to sway undecided voters over the last seven days of the campaign. A Washington Post/ABC poll put the candidates in a 49-49 tie among likely voters, with a Pew Research poll finding a 47 to 47 percent dead heat.

Gallup’s tracking survey, however, which has regularly given Romney larger leads than other polls, puts him up 5 points over Obama, at 51 to 46 percent support.

The NPR Battleground poll was conducted from Oct. 23 to 25 and has a 3-point margin of error.