Ballot Box

Polls: Obama up eight in Ohio, four in Florida

President Obama has opened a significant lead in Ohio and holds a narrow advantage in Florida, according to new polls released Tuesday, more good news for the incumbent president in swing states key to challenger Mitt Romney's efforts.

Obama holds a 52-44 percent lead in Ohio, a commanding eight-point edge among likely voters in the poll released Tuesday by The Washington Post. No Republican has ever won the White House without taking the Buckeye State, and the state is considered similarly crucial to Romney's prospects in November.

The president also holds a 51-47 percent advantage in Florida — within the survey's margin of error, but still a troubling number for the Romney campaign. As with Ohio, it will be extremely difficult for Romney to prevail without carrying the Sunshine State.

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OVERNIGHT CAMPAIGN: Romney on the attack

TOP STORY: Romney gets aggressive

Mitt Romney launched an aggressive new attack on President Obama on Monday, hitting the president for describing the recent events in the Middle East as "bumps in the road."

"These are not bumps in the road, these are human lives," Romney told a crowd in Pueblo, Colo. "These are developments we don't want to see."

Obama made the comments on “60 Minutes” during a larger discussion of whether recent events had given him any pause in his support for governments that had formed following the Arab Spring.

"I think it was absolutely the right thing for us to do to align ourselves with democracy, universal rights, a notion that people have to be able to participate in their own governance," Obama said. "But I was pretty certain and continue to be pretty certain that there are going to be bumps in the road because, you know, in a lot of these places, the one organizing principle has been Islam."

Romney’s attacks come as his campaign said it would debut a new "change in message" that looked not just to criticize Obama's record, but to paint a contrast for voters of the next four years.

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Dem poll: GOP Rep. Benishek trails by nine in Michigan

Rep. Dan Benishek (R-Mich.) trails challenger Gary McDowell (D) by nine points, according to a new Democratic poll.

The poll, conducted for the pro-Democratic House Majority PAC, AFSCME and the League of Conservation Voters, has McDowell leading Benishek by 49 to 40 percent. Though partisan polls should be viewed with some skepticism, that's a big shift from a two-point advantage Benishek had in an early poll conducted for the three groups.

The two are running in a rematch from 2010, when Benishek beat McDowell by a surprising 11-point margin in the rural, populist northern Michigan district. But national groups on both sides have said they expect a close race in the district, and are spending heavily to influence its outcome. The Hill rates the race a "toss-up."

The poll of 402 likely voters was conducted by Democratic pollster Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group from Sept. 18-20 and has a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points.

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Tough new ad shows Sen. Brown going on offense in Mass. Senate race

Two new ads out from Sen. Scott Brown's (R-Mass.) campaign illustrate the contrasting two-part strategy the senator is launching as he remains behind in some polls just six weeks out from the election.

One ad, released on Saturday, is typical of his campaign thus far: It features Brown driving in his iconic truck to visit an average Massachusetts voter, Diane Gilfoy-Henry, and touts his bipartisan record in the Senate at the end.

But another ad, released on Monday, indicates he may be shifting into a more combative phase of the campaign. "Who Knows?" targets Democrat Elizabeth Warren's proclaimed Native American heritage with news clips spliced together, one stating "she's facing tough questions about whether she claimed to be a minority for professional gain."

Warren appears at the end of the ad, joking when asked whether there are other things voters don't yet know about her.

"I don't think so, but who knows?" she says.

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Rehberg narrowly leads Tester in latest poll

Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) narrowly leads Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), according to a new independent poll from Mason-Dixon Research for a group of Montana newspapers.

Rehberg leads Tester by 48 to 45 percent, within the poll's margin of error. The two have been neck-and-neck in nearly every single public poll of the race, though Rehberg has held a slight edge in more of them than Tester has.

Both candidates are well-known after months of big spending by outside groups on the race, which might have damaged both of their reputations. Tester's approval rating is at 40 percent, with 36 percent disapproving, while Reherg has a 44 percent approval rating with 37 percent disapproving.

Rehberg's slight lead in the poll comes from a 9-point edge with independents, who tend to lean Republican in the state.

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