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Poll: Obama up 5 in Ohio; Romney whittles away gap in Va., Fla.

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President Obama holds a 5-point lead in battleground Ohio and narrower 2- and 1-point leads in Virginia and Florida, respectively, according to a new Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS poll released Wednesday.

Mr. Obama’s 50 percent to 45 percent advantage in the Buckeye State is unchanged from an Oct. 22 poll, but Mr. Romney has been able to whittle previous leads in Florida and Virginia for the president down to within the margin of error.

Mr. Obama leads 49 percent to 47 percent in Virginia, compared to a 51 percent to 46 percent lead on Oct. 11, and he holds a 48 percent to 47 percent lead in Florida, compared to a sizable 53 percent to 44 percent lead on Sept. 26 — prior to the presidential debates.

“After being subjected to what seems like a zillion dollars’ worth of television ads and personal attention from the two candidates reminiscent of a high-school crush, the key swing states of Florida and Virginia are too close to call with the election only days away,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “President Barack Obama clings to a 5-point lead in Ohio, but Gov. Mitt Romney has narrowed the president’s lead that existed in Florida and Virginia before the first debate.”

Mr. Obama holds a narrow 49 percent to 48 percent lead in Ohio on which man is better able to fix the economy, while Mr. Romney enjoys a 49 percent to 47 lead in Florida and a 50 percent to 46 percent lead in Virginia on that issue.

Mr. Romney has been able to chip away into Mr. Obama’s advantage with women in two of the three states, though support from female likely voters in Ohio is virtually the same as Oct. 22, at 56 percent to 39 percent.

But Mr. Romney whittled a 19-point deficit to a 10-point disadvantage in Florida and a 16-point deficit in Virginia to 10 points in Virginia.

At least 60 percent of voters in all three states say that Mr. Obama “cares about the needs and problems of people like you,” while less than half in all three say the same about Mr. Romney. However, at least 64 percent of voters in each state say Mr. Romney has strong leadership qualities, while Mr. Obama topped out in that category at 58 percent in Ohio.

A plurality of voters in all three states think the nation’s economy is getting better, and pluralities in Florida and Virginia say the same about their own state’s economy. In Ohio, 52 percent of voters think the state’s economy is getting better, compared to 17 percent who say it’s getting worse.

Democrats in three key U.S. Senate races in the states all hold leads as well, and by larger margins than Mr. Obama. In Florida, U.S. Sen. Sen. Bill Nelson leads GOP Rep. Connie Mack, 52 percent to 39 percent and in Ohio, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown leads GOP State Treasurer Josh Mandel, 51 percent to 42 percent.

In a match-up between two former Virginia governors, Tim Kaine leads 50 percent to 46 percent over Republican George Allen, compared to a 51 percent to 44 percent lead Oct. 11. Independent voters, however, back Mr. Allen by an overwhelming 18-point margin, 56 percent to 38 percent.

“Virginia’s U.S. Senate race, which opened up a little in recent months is once again getting close, with Democrat Tim Kaine holding on to a small lead,” Mr. Brown said. “One reason: Although George Allen is carrying independents handily, he enjoys about 10-points lower support among Republicans than Kaine does among Democrats.”

The poll was conducted from Oct. 23-28. In Florida, 1,073 likely voters were polled with a margin of 3 percentage points, 1,110 Ohio likely voters were surveyed with a margin of error of 2.9 percentage points, and 1,074 likely voters in Virginia were polled with a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

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