Polls: Obama expands lead over Romney in key battleground states

President Obama is expanding his lead over Mitt Romney in swing states that will be key in determining the outcome of the 2012 election, two new polls show.

According to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released late Tuesday, Obama leads Romney 50 percent to 42 in a survey of likely voters in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

{mosads}Obama won all of those states in 2008 and will need to keep about half in the Democratic column if he’s to secure reelection.

The same poll taken in May showed Obama with a 48 to 42 percent lead over Romney in those battleground states.

Obama’s lead in the swing states is outsized, however, in comparison to the NBC/Journal national poll that found the president leading by only 3 percent, within the poll’s margin of error.

A Quinnipiac University poll of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania released on Wednesday produced similar results. That survey finds Obama ahead by 9 in Ohio, 6 in Pennsylvania and 4 in Florida.

While Quinnipiac’s results show a slight dip from Obama’s 8-point lead in Pennsylvania in the same poll taken in May, the president has grown his lead in the other two states. In May Obama trailed Romney in Florida 43-44 and topped Romney 44-42 in Ohio.

“If he can keep those leads in all three of those key swing states through Election Day he would be virtually assured of reelection,” said director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute Peter A. Brown in a statement. “Of course, the election is more than four months away, which is a lifetime in politics.”

Obama is buoyed in the Quinnipiac poll by massive leads among his most reliable constituents — women, young voters and Hispanics. In addition, Obama performs well in areas that Romney could until now count as strengths — with independent voters and on the economy.

Independent voters had been breaking toward Romney nationally, but Obama leads Romney 44 to 37 among independents in Florida, 45 to 36 in Ohio and 43 to 37 in Pennsylvania.

Additionally, voters in those states are split over which candidate would do a better job on the economy — an argument that Romney has made the primary focus of his campaign, claiming that Obama has run out of time to manage the nation’s recovery.

In Florida, Romney edges the president 46-44 on economic issues. Obama leads 45-38 in Ohio, with the two candidates tied at 44 in Pennsylvania.

Romney had historically low favorability ratings during the primary season, which continues to dog his campaign in the general election. Quinnipiac finds that in Florida 37 percent have a favorable view of Romney compared to 42 unfavorable, he’s at 32 positive and 46 negative in Ohio, and at 34 positive, 39 negative in Pennsylvania.

The NBC-Journal poll showed Romney’s favorability rating has dropped in the 12 battleground states since he effectively secured the Republican nomination.

Obama has positive favorability ratings in Florida and Ohio, and is slightly underwater, 45-47, in Pennsylvania.

While the NBC-Journal poll found the Republican base, including those who identify as Tea Party supporters, has begun to rally around a Romney candidacy, he still faces a considerable enthusiasm gap against President Obama. A majority of Romney supporters — 58 percent — said their vote is more against Obama than for Romney, while 72 percent of Obama supporters said their vote was for the president rather than against Romney.

The NBC/Wall Street Journal poll was conducted from June 20-23 and has a 3 percent margin of error. The Quinnipiac University Poll was conducted from June 19-25 and has a 3 percent margin of error.


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