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Published: Wednesday, 8/1/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Poll: Obama pulling ahead of Romney in key swing states


COLUMBUS--President Obama will visit battleground Ohio today just as a new poll suggests he's putting some distance between himself and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney in three key swing states.

The just released Quinnipiac University/CBS News/New York Times poll of likely voters in Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania have the President above the 50 percent mark.

He is at exactly the halfway point in Ohio compared to 44 percent for Mr. Romney, at 51 percent in Florida to Mr. Romney's 45 percent, and at 53 percent in Pennsylvania to Mr. Romney's 42 percent.

The poll appears to reinforce a late June poll of registered voters by Quinnipiac that had Mr. Obama up 9 points in Ohio, a poll dismissed by some at the time as inconsistent with the tight race competing polls were showing.

Mr. Obama's latest 6-point lead is just outside the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points, but it remains the tightest of the three swing states.

No Republican has ever won the White House without carrying Ohio, and no Democrat has done it since John F. Kennedy in 1960. In fact, no one has won the presidency without carrying at least two of the three polled swing swings since Mr. Kennedy.

In a bid to reinforce those numbers, Mr. Obama will stop in Mansfield and Akron today as he continues to argue that his tax, job-creation, college education, and other policies would be better for the middle class than Mr. Romney's proposals.

The Ohio portion of the poll questioned 1,193 voters who identified themselves as likely to vote in the Nov. 6 election.

“The President is running better in the key swing states than he is nationally,'' said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Connecticut-based Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

"Part of the reason may be that the unemployment rate in Ohio is well below the national average,'' he said. "In Florida it has been dropping over the past year, while nationally that has not been the case.”

While Mr. Romney has touted his own business experience as qualifying him to turn around the nation's stagnating economy, his message has sometimes conflicted with that of Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a fellow Republican, who has pointed instead to Ohio's improved numbers.

"All this matters because half of all likely voters say the economy is the most important issue to their vote, far ahead of any other issue,'' Mr. Brown said. "The saving grace for Gov. Mitt Romney is that he roughly breaks even with the president on who is best on the economy.”

Ten percent of those supporting Mr. Romney in Ohio said they could yet change their minds, reinforcing the notion that the campaigns are focused on a smaller number of voters in only a handful of swing states.

The number rises to 13 percent among those who now plan to vote for Mr. Obama.

Mr. Obama's strength in Ohio is due to a large part to his support among women, 52 percent of whom say they will vote for the President, 10 points over Mr Romney.

The numbers are flipped, however, when it comes to men. The battle for the Buckeye State could come down to independents, who narrowly support Mr. Obama 47 percent to 44 percent.

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