WASHINGTON -- Three new Quinnipiac University polls released on Wednesday show President Barack Obama leading presumptive Republican challenger Mitt Romney in Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania.
The Quinnipiac polls find evidence of movement since May in Obama's direction in Ohio and Florida and voter support for Obama's newly announced immigration policy, particularly in Florida.
The new Florida survey is the second from the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute in June, and both give Obama a lead of four percentage points over Romney: 45 percent to 41 percent on the just completed survey and 46 percent to 42 percent on a poll conducted two weeks earlier. These results represent a reversal from a Quinnipiac poll in mid-May that showed Romney leading by six points (47 percent to 41 percent).
Polls by other organizations in May showed a mix of results: three had Obama slightly ahead, and one gave Romney the advantage. When combined in the HuffPost Pollster Florida chart, the combined trend lines show a continuing Obama edge of just under one percentage point (45.5 percent to 44.6 percent). Unless and until other polls confirm the slightly bigger lead measured by Quinnipiac, Florida should be considered a toss-up.
In Ohio, Quinnipiac gives Obama a nine-point advantage over Romney (47 percent to 38 percent), the biggest lead shown by any poll since February and a big gain from the last Quinnipiac poll in early May, which showed Obama with just a one-point lead. An automated Ohio survey released on Tuesday by Public Policy Polling, a firm that conducts surveys for local Democratic candidates, showed Obama leading by a smaller margin (47 percent to 44 percent).
Nevertheless, the HuffPost Pollster Ohio chart shows Romney gaining in Ohio and the trend lines converging, because of two surveys conducted in late May by Purple Strategies and Rasmussen Reports that each gave Romney a slight edge. As with Florida, the Ohio chart's trend lines give Obama an advantage of less than one percentage point (46.2 percent to 45.4 percent), again well within the toss-up range.
In Pennsylvania, the new Quinnipiac survey shows Obama with a six-point lead over Romney (45 percent to 39 percent). Fifteen surveys have been conducted so far this year by six different pollsters, and all but one have shown Obama leading. The current HuffPost Pollster chart for Pennsylvania gives Obama a lead over Romney of just over eight percentage points (47.3 percent to 39.1 percent).
The new Quinnipiac University polls in Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania were conducted from June 19 to 25 and involved samples of more than 1,200 registered voters in each state. They used live interviewers to call voters over both landline and mobile phones.
The election is still more than four months away, and early polls are often poor predictors of the ultimate outcome. Other results within these surveys help show why the race in these three battleground states should remain close. Obama's job performance rating remains just under 50 percent in all three (47 percent in Florida, 48 percent in Ohio and 45 percent in Pennsylvania), as does the percentage that says he deserves reelection (46 percent in Florida, 49 percent in Ohio and 45 percent in Pennsylvania).
But the Obama campaign got good news, as registered in this poll, in the strong positive reactions to the new immigration executive order recently announced by the Obama administration. Majorities in all three states expressed support for "a new policy in which young illegal immigrants who came to the country as children will be able to obtain work permits and will not face deportation." In Florida, voters say they support that policy by a 58-to-33 percent margin.
Before hearing the policy described, voters in all three states also said that Obama would do a better job than Romney on immigration.
The notion of a trend in Obama's direction in battleground states conflicts with the results of the national tracking polls, which, if anything, have shown slight movement in Romney's direction in June.
However, the possibility of a different dynamic at work in the battleground states gets tenuous support from a relatively small subset of interviews culled from the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. While the poll showed overall stability in the Obama-Romney horse race nationwide, it indicated that Obama led Romney 50 percent to 42 percent among respondents in 12 swing states. The swing state results led Republican pollster Bill McInturff to conclude that "it's been more of a problematic month from May to June for Romney" (McInturff conducts the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll along with Democrat Peter Hart).
Many months and far more polls remain before November, but for the moment the Obama campaign has news to smile about in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.