Stubbornly close and deeply divisive, the presidential race throttles into its last 100 days as an enormous clash over economic vision, with the outcome likely to come down to fall debates, final unemployment numbers and fierce efforts to mobilize voters. It may seem like an election for the whole nation, but only about eight states will decide who wins the White House.

Polling shows the contest between President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney remains remarkably static across the country and in those pivotal states even as both men and their allies pour money into largely negative television advertising to sway opinions.

The two candidates will intensify their time before voters in the weeks ahead, knowing much of the public will not truly start paying attention until after Labor Day.

What voters probably will see will look a lot like what’s played out so far _ a bitter, bruising, personal contest over who can be trusted to fix the economy. Obama, for example, used his weekend radio and Internet address to blame Republicans for a stalemate that could raise taxes on Americans next year, and he took a swipe at Romney without mentioning his challenger by name.

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