President Barack Obama has opened up a decisive lead over Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in three battleground states, breaking the 50-per cent threshold in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, according to a new set of Quinnipiac/CBS News/New York Times polls released early Wednesday. The polls show Obama with his biggest advantage yet in all three states, leading Romney by 9 points in Florida (53-44), 10 points in Ohio (53-43), and 12 points in Pennsylvania (54-42). Combined, the three states hold 67 electoral college votes, making it difficult for either candidate to win the election without taking at least two out of three.
Obama has also made significant gains on the question of which candidate can better handle the economy, wiping out Romney’s key advantage on the top issue for voters in all three states. In Florida, Obama now leads Romney on the issue 51-46 per cent in Florida, and 51-45 per cent in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
The results reflect the damage inflicted by the Romney campaign’s stumbles over the past two weeks, and particularly by the candidate’s “47-per cent” comments, which dominated national and regional headlines last week.
“Gov. Mitt Romney had a bad week in the media and it shows in these key swing states,” Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in a statement. “The furor over his 47 per cent remark almost certainly is a major factor in the roughly double-digit leads President Barack Obama has in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The debates may be Romney’s best chance to reverse the trend in his favour.”
But a deeper look within the polls reveal demographic trends that will be difficult for Romney to overcome in the next six weeks, and could be very troublesome for the Republican Party down the line.
In all three states, Obama’s lead is propelled by his support among female voters. While the president still lags slightly among men and white voters, he has made significant gains with those groups. Romney’s advantage isn’t enough to close the gap, particularly when you factor in support for Obama among black and Hispanic voters.
Here’s the breakdown:
- In Florida, Obama has a 19-point lead with female voters, while Romney edges out Obama among male voters 50 per cent to 47 per cent. Among white voters, Obama now trails Romney by six points, up from 19 points in last month’s Florida poll. Obama carries 90 per cent of black voters and leads Romney with Latinos, 55 per cent to 41 per cent.
- In Ohio, Obama leads Romney by an overwhelming 25 points among female voters, erasing Romney’s eight-point advantage among men. Romney has a three-point advantage with white voters.
- In Pennsylvania, female voters favour Obama, 58 per cent to 37 per cent, while the two candidates run even with white voters and men.
Significantly, Obama’s job approval rating has also also crossed the 50-per cent threshold considered necessary for an incumbent to win in all three polls, and now stands at 50 per cent in Florida and Ohio, and 51 per cent in Pennsylvania.