President Barack Obama is now polling above 50 percent in the three states that have traditionally been seen as the most important battlegrounds, a new poll released Wednesday shows.
He holds 54 percent of the vote among likely voters in Pennsylvania and 53 percent in both Ohio and Florida, the Quinnipiac University survey for The New York Times and CBS News shows.
That gives him a gap of between 9 and 12 percentage points over Republican challenger Mitt Romney in the three vital states.
"No-one has won the White House since 1960 without taking at least two" of the three states, Peter Brown, assistant director of the university's polling institute pointed out.
The swing to Obama has been so great in recent weeks that Republicans are paying little attention to Pennsylvania this year, instead concentrating on the other two key states and those they see in play elsewhere in the country including Wisconsin, Virginia and North Carolina.
Brown said that last week, when the Romney campaign was hit by a deluge of bad press including the leaking of a tape of a May speech in which he told a private audience that his job was not to worry about 47 percent of the
voting population, was partly responsible for the swing against the GOP¹s man.
"The debates may be Romney¹s best chance to reverse the trend in his favor," said Brown. The first of three presidential debates will be held on Wednesday next week.
But Brown said there is more to the results than that. "In Ohio and Florida votes are basically split down the middle on whether the country and they and their families are worse or better off than they were four years ago.
"If voters don¹t think they are worse off, it is difficult to see them throwing out an incumbent whose personal ratings with voters remains quite high.
"The president's strength results from the fact that for the first time in the entire campaign, he is seen as better able to fix the economy than is Romney, the issue that has been the Republican's calling card since the general election campaign began. And the economy remains the overwhelming choice as the most important issue to voters' presidential choice."
The key results showed Obama up by 53 percent to 44 in Florida; 53 percent to 43 in Ohio and 54 percent to 42 in Pennsylvania. The polls were conducted between last Tuesday and Monday this week among a sampling of nearly 1,200 likely voters in each state.
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