The poll—which surveyed 400 likely Massachusetts voters—showed Romney and O’Brien tied at 40 percent.
It also revealed a statistical dead heat among Bay State residents in a possible 2004 matchup between President Bush and U.S. Senator John F. Kerry (D-Mass.).
With a 4.9 percent margin of error—Bush polled 43 percent and Kerry came in at 45 percent.
Bush, however, led former Vice President and potential 2004 candidate Al Gore ’69—who took Massachusetts’ 12 electoral votes in 2000—by 11 points.
The gubernatorial numbers show better numbers for Romney than previous polls.
A Boston Globe/WBZ-TV poll taken in late September gave O’Brien a small lead.
The IOP-NECN poll mirrored the results of a Boston Herald poll released the same day.
“It’s a horse race,” said IOP Director Dan Glickman. “It’s something that could go either way.”
The two candidates have debated twice since the Sept. 17 primary election, but neither candidate was able to score a decisive victory in either meeting.
“Neither candidate has knocked the other out of the ballpark,” Glickman said. “Nor has either candidate made any catastrophic mistakes.”
Although the poll was taken in the days after last week’s debate, Glickman said he did not feel this had much impact on the numbers—despite half of voters polled saying they watched the event.
“People don’t focus very much until the last week or two,” Glickman said.
The two candidates were also garnered similar favorability ratings among the critical bloc of unenrolled voters.
Victory for both candidates ultimately lies in capturing this demographic—who comprise 49 percent of the electorate.
But this is an especially important bloc for Romney because registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by an over two-to-one margin.