Obama tops Romney in poll of Pa., Ohio, Fla. voters

Posted June 27, 2012, at 8:12 p.m.
Last modified June 27, 2012, at 9:11 p.m.

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama holds an edge over presumed Republican nominee Mitt Romney in the election battleground states of Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida, a Quinnipiac University poll shows.

Obama leads Romney by 9 percentage points in Ohio, 6 points in Pennsylvania and 4 points in Florida, according to the June 19-25 “swing-state” survey released Wednesday. Obama has gained ground in Ohio and Florida while his lead in Pennsylvania diminished slightly, compared with a comparable Quinnipiac poll released on May 3.

A move by Obama to stop deportations of some illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children helped win over voters, said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. The president holds almost a 2-1 lead among Hispanic voters in Florida, the poll found.

“If he can keep those leads in all three of these key swing states through Election Day, he would be virtually assured of re-election,” Brown said in an emailed statement.

No one has won the White House since 1960 without carrying at least two of the three states surveyed in this poll; Obama won all of them in 2008. The three states combined hold 67 of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House.

In Florida, Obama leads Romney 45 percent to 41 percent, the poll showed. In the swing-state poll released May 3, the president led by 1 point, meaning the race in the state was a virtual dead heat.

The revised deportation policy Obama announced June 15 and his June 22 address to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials meeting in Lake Buena Vista, Florida — following a Romney speech to the group by one day — boosted the president’s standing with Hispanics in that state, according to Quinnipiac poll data.

In a June 12-18 poll by Quinnipiac solely of Florida voters — in which Obama also led overall by 4 percentage points — the president had a 10-point edge over Romney among Hispanics surveyed, 49 percent to 39 percent. In the latest poll, Obama’s lead over Romney among this bloc has grown to 24 points, 56 percent to 32 percent.

Among all Florida voters in the new survey, 58 percent said they supported Obama’s immigration initiative, while 33 percent opposed it.

Voters in the other two states in the poll were also supportive, backing the policy 52 percent to 38 percent in Ohio and 51 percent to 41 percent in Pennsylvania.

In Ohio overall, Obama leads Romney 47 percent to 38 percent, the poll showed. In the May 3 swing-state poll, Obama was up 44 percent to 42 percent.

The president benefits from positive views about him among Ohio voters — 50 percent rate him favorably, compared with 44 percent who have an unfavorable opinion of him. By comparison, 32 percent of Ohio voters say they view Romney favorably, while 46 percent don’t.

While Democrats and Republicans in the state allied overwhelmingly with their party’s candidate, independent voters backed Obama 45 percent to 36 percent.

“The president’s lead is largely due to his lead among independent voters, the group that usually decides Ohio elections,” Brown said.

In Pennsylvania, Obama leads 45 percent to 39 percent in the latest poll; in the survey released May 3 he was backed by 47 percent to Romney’s 39 percent. Obama has a 12-point edge with women voters in the state in the latest poll.

Neither candidate enjoys positive favorability ratings in the state. Obama gets favorable marks from 45 percent, while 49 percent view him unfavorably. Romney is viewed favorably by 34 percent, unfavorably by 39 percent.

“Pennsylvania voters have no great love for President Barack Obama, but at this point they like Governor Mitt Romney less,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the polling institute.

In all three states, Obama is holding his own against Romney on the handling of the economy — the central argument the Republican has made for replacing the president.

In Ohio, voters back Obama 47 percent to 42 percent when asked whether he or Romney would do a better job on the economy. In Pennsylvania, voters tie on this question — 44 percent for each — while in Florida, Romney has a slight edge, 46 percent to 44 percent for Obama.

“For much of last year, more voters in these swing states have said Romney would do a better job on the economy,” Brown said. “That advantage has largely disappeared.”

Ohio has been carried by the winner of every presidential election since 1964, and Florida sided with a loser only once over that period — in 1992, when it backed then-President George H.W. Bush over Democrat Bill Clinton. Pennsylvania has been reliably Democratic in presidential races since the 1992 vote.

The poll’s margin of error in each state is plus or minus 2.8 percentage points. Quinnipiac surveyed 1,200 voters in Florida, 1,237 in Ohio and 1,252 in Pennsylvania.

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