New poll results from a trio of swing states show the 2012 presidential race tightening between President Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney. The former Massachusetts governor has closed a gap in Florida and Ohio, but Obama has extended his lead in Pennsylvania, according to surveys by Quinnipiac University.
The results released Thursday show Romney with 44 percent in Florida to Obama's 43 percent and Obama leading in Ohio with 44 percent to 42 percent. In polls taken about a month ago, Obama led Romney in Florida by about 7 percentage points and in Ohio by 6 percent.
"Gov. Mitt Romney has closed President Barack Obama's leads in Ohio and Florida to the point that those two states are now essentially tied, a turnaround from the end of March when the president enjoyed leads in those key states," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, in a release.
The polls were conducted from April 25-May 1 and have a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percent.
Brown said a majority of voters in Florida and Ohio said Romney would do a better job improving the economy than Obama. Voters in Pennsylvania, however, were divided. That fact, combined with a much larger gender gap in the Keystone State--with more women preferring Obama to Romney--explains the president's lead there.
The latest survey shows Obama leading Romney 47 percent to 39 percent in Pennsylvania, compared to a three-point lead about a month ago.
"A very small gender gap in Florida grows significantly in Ohio and Pennsylvania as women flock to Obama," Brown said. "Romney offsets Obama's edge in Ohio with a big lead among men, something he doesn't achieve in Pennsylvania. What appears to be keeping Romney in the ballgame, at least in Florida and Ohio, is the perception he can better fix the economy."
In national polling, Romney leads Obama 46 percent to 45 percent, according to Gallup's tracking poll. Since it takes 270 Electoral College votes to win the White House, not a plurality of votes across the country, states like Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania play outsized roles in the election. Already, both Romney and Obama have spent time stumping in all three states.
But despite Romney's rise in Ohio and Florida, Brown said Obama still holds the edge.
"Overall, Obama is doing slightly better than Romney in these critical swing states today," he said.
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Rebekah Metzler is a political writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter.