President Obama has jumped 9 percentage points ahead of his Republican rival Mitt Romney in a new Ohio poll by Quinnipiac University, and the President's campaign said Wednesday that he is planning a bus tour through northern Ohio.
Quinnipiac, in southern Connecticut, said its newest "swing state" poll puts the Democratic incumbent ahead of Mr. Romney by 47 percent to 38 percent. Mr. Obama also holds leads in politically volatile Pennsylvania and Florida.
"If he can keep those leads in all three of these key swing states through Election Day, he would be virtually assured of re-election," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
No President since 1960 has been elected without carrying Ohio and at least one of the other two states.
The Obama campaign offered few details of the two-day swing through Pennsylvania and Ohio starting July 5.
The newest Quinnipiac survey gives President Obama the biggest lead of any recent poll, including one by the Democratic polling organization Public Policy Polling. It announced a poll on Tuesday that showed the President ahead of Mr. Romney by 47 percent to 44 percent, but appearing to lose support among white Democratic voters.
Mr. Brown attributed Mr. Obama's surge to his flood of television advertising. Much of that advertising accused Mr. Romney of destroying companies and jobs when he headed the investment firm Bain Capital and also highlighted the former Massachusetts governor's opposition to the 2009 auto industry bailout.
"I'm told Obama has greatly outspent Romney on TV ads in Ohio, and I would think that has a lot to do with it. Television ads move voters and they dwarf almost everything else," Mr. Brown said. "What's going on now is a war to define Mitt Romney, and what you're seeing is that President Obama has won the most recent battle."
Men favor Mr. Obama 45 percent to 42 percent, while women favor the incumbent 50 percent to 35 percent. Voters said by 47 percent to 42 percent that Mr. Obama would do a better job on the economy than Mr. Romney.
"For much of the last year, more voters in these swing states have said Romney would do a better job on the economy. That advantage has largely disappeared, at least for now," Mr. Brown said.
Ohio respondents said they support Mr. Obama's immigration policy 52 percent to 38 percent and, by a 45 percent to 38 percent margin, viewed Mr. Obama's performance on immigration favorably.
The latest poll also portends a daunting task for Republican Josh Mandel in his campaign to challenge Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio) for the U.S. Senate. Mr. Brown leads Mr. Mandel, the Ohio state treasurer, 50 percent to 34 percent.
Pollsters interviewed 1,237 Ohio voters June 19-25. The poll has a 2.8 percent margin of error, so the gap between Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney could be as close as 44 percent to 41 percent, rounded off.
Next week's trip by Mr. Obama would be his 23rd to the state since taking office in January, 2009.
The planned visit was panned in advance by Mr. Romney's Ohio campaign. Campaign spokesman Chris Maloney dubbed it the "Broken Promises Tour."
"President Obama's upcoming 'Broken Promises' tour will offer him the opportunity to see first-hand the devastating impact his administration's policies are having on job creators and communities across northern Ohio," Mr. Maloney said.
Contact Tom Troy at email@example.com or 419-724-6058.