COLUMBUS -- Five weeks before Ohio begins casting its first ballots, two polls on Thursday showed President Obama leading Mitt Romney in the critical battleground state.
But the polls differed on how wide that lead is.
The latest Quinnipiac University/CBS News/New York Times Poll shows the presidential race in Ohio to be locked at where it was last month, indicating no Romney bump in the state for picking U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate.
The Democratic President leads with 50 percent of the potential vote to the Republican ex-Massachusetts governor's 44 percent, just outside the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points. The poll questioned 1,253 likely Buckeye voters.
The same poll's surveys of Florida and Mr. Ryan's home state of Wisconsin show that Mr. Ryan's presence on the ticket has apparently boosted the top of the ticket's fortunes, moving into statistical ties with Mr. Obama in both states. Mr. Obama's lead has been cut to 49 percent to 46 percent in Florida and 49 percent to 47 percent in Wisconsin.
A separate, smaller Ohio Poll by the University of Cincinnati has Mr. Obama up 49 percent to 46 percent over Mr. Romney, within the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 points. That poll questioned 847 likely voters.
In the Ohio Poll, just 4 percent of voters said they are undecided or are backing another candidate, although 13 percent of those aligned with one or the other say they could change their minds.
"These polls vindicate the view that we are experiencing a base election. This is not a swing voter election," said Mark Weaver, a GOP strategist on Mr. Romney's legal team.
"Truly independent voters are becoming more and more hard to find in the presidential race," he said. "Most people have picked a side. The key factor favoring Romney is that independents are favoring him. That is typically true of a challenger in a change-based environment."
He said he views the Ohio race as a tie, given that the two polls show the race to be within or barely outside the statistical margins of error.
"The campaigns are spending a lot of time trying to figure out who is undecided and how to persuade them," said Jim Ruvolo of Toledo, former chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party. "This barrage of TV ads is hardening positions, not moving the positions of people in the middle. This is a polarized electorate."
Mr. Weaver said the Quinnipiac Poll traditionally has over-sampled Democrats, while Mr. Ruvolo characterized the Ohio Poll as leaning to Republicans.
Thursday's competing polls also have U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown leading his Republican challenger, state Treasurer Josh Mandel, but they again show different pictures of how tight that race is. The Quinnipiac Poll has Mr. Brown up by 7 points, 48 percent to 41 percent, outside the margin of error, while the smaller Ohio Poll has it at an extremely tight 48 percent to 47 percent.
While Mr. Romney has tried to focus on what he views to be his strength, the economy, the Quinnipiac Poll suggests that isn't working in Ohio. In that poll, Ohio voters are evenly split at 47 percent on the question of which of the two would do a better job on that front.
"On economic issues in Ohio, Obama is doing quite well, and it's because of the auto bailout," Mr. Ruvolo said. "In northern Ohio in particular, that's a strong suit for Barack Obama. Romney was against it. He won't talk about it, but people in Toledo, Cleveland, and Youngstown know that Obama saved their jobs."
The Ohio Poll gives the nod to Mr. Romney with 49 percent saying he would do a better job compared to 42 percent for Mr. Obama.
Contact Jim Provance at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or 614-221-0496.