President Obama leads presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney in the key battleground states of Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania, where voters approve of the president's new immigration policy and rate the candidates about even on handling the economy, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday.
Mr. Obama leads Mr. Romney 45 percent to 41 percent in Florida, 47 percent to 38 percent in Ohio and 45 percent to 39 percent in Pennsylvania, the survey found. The same poll on May 3 found the president leading by 8 percentage points in Pennsylvania, with Florida and Ohio too close to call.
Peter A. Brown, assistant director of Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, noted that no candidate has won the White House since 1960 without taking at least two of those states.
"If Obama can keep those leads in all three of these key swing states through Election Day, he would be virtually assured of re-election," the pollster said. "Of course, the election is more than four months away, which is a lifetime in politics."
The president enjoys strong support among women, the young and black voters. It was this bloc that propelled Mr. Obama to the White House in 2008, and Mr. Brown said the new polls suggests the president is holding on to their support.
Independent voters are more divided: In Ohio, the president leads with 45 percent to Mr. Romneys 36 percent, and in Florida by 44 percent to 37 percent. However, in Pennsylvania, independents favor Mr. Romney 43 percent to Mr. Obama's 37 percent.
The poll also found that Mr. Obama's recent order easing deportation rules for some younger illegal immigrants is being received well in the three states. Florida voters support the initiative 58 percent to 33 percent, Ohio voters back it by a margin of 52 percent to 38 percent, and Pennsylvania voters favor it by 51 percent to 41 percent.
The poll also found Democratic momentum in tight U.S. Senate races in the key swing states.
In Ohio, Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown tops GOP state Treasurer Josh Mandel by a whopping 16 percentage points — 50 percent to 34 percent — which is 10 points higher than Mr. Brown's lead in a Quinnipiac poll in early May.
In Pennsylvania, Sen. Robert Casey Jr., is faring even better, leading Republican challenger Tom Smith 49 percent to 32 percent. Mr. Casey held a 19 percentage point lead in a poll taken by the university earlier this month.
And in Florida, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson holds a slim 41 percent to 40 percent advantage over Rep. Connie Mack, the leading Republican challenger. Mr. Nelson had a 4-percentage point lead over Mr. Mack in a Quinnipiac poll taken a week earlier. The race remains a dead heat with more than 17 percent of voters still undecided.
c Sean Lengell contributed to this report.
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