Polls show race tightening in Ohio, Florida, Virginia

Polls show a tight presidential race is getting even closer just a week before Election Day.

A handful of polls released Tuesday found President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney either tied or within 1 percentage point of each other, and none of the polls showed either candidate with 50 percent support.

Separately, a number of polls suggested a tightening race in the swing states that could decide the election. Polls of Ohio in recent days have suggested Obama’s lead is narrowing, while polls of Florida and Virginia suggest the president is closing in on Romney after seeing the Republican take a lead.

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The campaigns sparred Tuesday over the meaning of the polls, with Romney’s campaign arguing he has broadened the battlefield to Pennsylvania and Minnesota, where some recent polls show a close race. No Republican presidential candidate has won Minnesota since 1972, and Pennsylvania since 1988.

“Not only has Minnesota been moved to ‘lean Dem’ and the Obama campaign is up in that state with a significant television buy, but the Chicago gurus have heeded [former] Gov. [Ed] Rendell’s plea and are buying television in Pennsylvania and sending the vice president in to help prop up their flagging campaign,” Romney political director Rich Beeson wrote in a memo. 

“With one week to go, and 96 percent of the vote on the table on Election Day in Pennsylvania, this expansion of the electoral map demonstrates that Gov. Romney’s momentum has jumped containment from the usual target states and has spread to deeper-blue states that Chicago never anticipated defending.”

Obama’s campaign retorted that Romney is posturing and that its candidate had the lead or was tied in every battleground — including North Carolina, a state many observers expect the Republican will win.

“Three things are now absolutely clear in this race — we have a significant early-vote advantage in states from North Carolina to Nevada, there is no Romney momentum in the battleground states and the Romney campaign has found itself with a tremendously narrow and improbable path to 270 electoral votes,” Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said in a statement titled “Romney’s desperate play.” 

“Now, like Republicans did in 2008, they are throwing money at states where they never built an organization and have been losing for two years. Let’s be very clear, the Romney campaign and its allies’ decision to go up with advertising in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Minnesota is a decision made out of weakness, not strength.”

Recent polls in Pennsylvania show Obama maintaining a steady lead in the state. He is up by 4.7 percent over Romney, according to the RealClearPolitics average of polls.

A Minneapolis Star Tribune survey last week showed Romney within 3 points of Obama in Minnesota. 

An Elway poll released Tuesday showed Romney closing the gap on Obama in Oregon, which hasn’t gone for a Republican presidential candidate since 1984, and which Obama carried by 17 points in 2008.

While it’s unlikely Obama will lose Oregon this year, the polls in that state and in Minnesota point to the dangers of taking anything for granted and could affect decisions on advertising and travel in the closing days of the campaign. 

Romney running mate Paul Ryan made an appearance in Minneapolis’s airport on Tuesday before flying to Wisconsin, while former President Clinton campaigned in Minnesota. 

Nationally, polls have moved very little over the last week, with Romney maintaining just less than a 1-point lead over Obama in the RealClearPolitics average.

Polls from Pew Research and The Washington Post showed a tied race at 47 percent and 49 percent apiece, respectively, while NPR’s poll found Romney ahead 49-48. Gallup, which has had Romney ahead by 5 points in recent days, did not release a poll Tuesday because of Hurricane Sandy. 

The NPR poll found Obama holding a 4-point lead over Romney in 12 battleground states.

However, the NPR survey polls the battleground states as a whole, and could overweigh Obama’s lead because of his outsize support in a state like New Mexico, which most no longer consider a swing state.

In Florida, a Newsmax/Zogby poll found Romney edging Obama by just 48 to 47 percent, while a SurveyUSA poll showed the candidates tied at 47.

Many analysts have been ready to move Florida squarely into Romney’s column — some surveys had begun to show Romney with a lead as big as 5 to 7 points. But the polls have done nothing but tighten in the Sunshine State over the last two weeks.

According to the RCP average of polls, Romney’s lead in Florida is down to 1.3 percentage points, and the four most recent polls of the state show Romney with a 1-point lead, Obama with a 1-point lead, or a tie.

Romney will campaign Wednesday in Tampa, Jacksonville and Miami.

Recent polls also show a tight race in Virginia, and one poll from Elon University over the weekend even found a tie in North Carolina. 

In Ohio, Obama’s lead has narrowed. A Rasmussen Reports survey released Monday found Romney overtaking the president in Ohio for the first time since May, 50 percent to 48. This follows a Cincinnati Enquirer/Ohio News Organization poll over the weekend that showed the candidates tied at 49 percent.