Poll: Obama, Romney tied in key swing states

President Obama and Mitt Romney are statistically tied in 12 key battleground states that will be critical in determining the outcome of the 2012 general election, according to a USA Today-Gallup swing-state poll released Monday.

Romney leads Obama 48 percent to 47 percent in a poll of registered voters in those states, although the survey has a five-point margin of error.

Newt Gingrich trails the president by 14 points in the swing states, according to the poll. In the same survey in December, during the former House speaker’s brief surge to the top of the GOP pack, Gingrich held a three-point lead over the president in those 12 battlegrounds.

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Obama leads Rep. Ron Paul (Texas) 50 percent to 43, and leads former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum 51 percent to 44.

In two of the three swing-state polls conducted by USA Today and Gallup, Romney has edged Obama by one point. In the third poll, taken in early December, Romney opened up a five-point lead against the president.

The poll assumed Obama would start with 196 electoral votes, while his Republican opponent would start with 191. Candidates need 270 electoral votes to win the White House. According to these estimates, Obama would need to win about half of the 151 electoral votes supplied by Michigan, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and New Hampshire in order to secure a second term.

The poll also measured the GOP candidates in head-to-head match-ups against the president nationally, and here again Romney and Obama are knotted in a tie, each with 48 percent.

Obama and Romney have never been separated by more than two points nationally since Gallup began conducting the poll in August.

Paul fares second best against the president nationally, trailing only 49 percent to 46. Santorum trails Obama 51 percent to 43, and Gingrich trails 53 percent to 41.

On Tuesday, voters will head to the polls to determine the winner of the Florida GOP primary. Romney opened up a convincing lead over Gingrich over the weekend on the strength of strong debate performances and a barrage of advertisements; however, new polls released Monday show the race tightening in the final hours.

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