President Obama and Mitt Romney were spending the final hours before their third and final debate — a potentially decisive bout that will focus on foreign policy — studying hard, as new polling reinforces the view that Romney’s surge out of their first debate has made the race too close to call.

With two weeks until Election Day, neither candidate is likely to get another chance after Monday night to articulate his platform to such a broad audience. The debate offers the usual mix of opportunity and peril for the candidates. One slip-up could drive coverage for days, with precious few left on the calendar. A strong performance by either could turn a post-debate bounce into an Election Day victory.

And the race is tight enough for any needle-moving out of Monday night’s debate to make a difference. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll on Sunday showed the president and Romney tied at 47 percent. A new Politico/George Washington University Battleground tracking poll showed Romney leading 49-47 percent — marking the first time the Republican nominee has led since May.

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