WASHINGTON -- New polls in three critical battleground states provide good news for President Barack Obama, as all three show him leading presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney by statistically significant margins.
The new surveys, conducted jointly by Quinnipiac University, CBS News and The New York Times, show Obama leading Romney by six percentage points in the crucial swing states of Ohio and Florida, and by a wider margin in Pennsylvania.
The president's margins in these surveys are slightly wider than the findings of other recent polls in the same states and, except for Ohio, are slightly better for Obama than the results of the last round of Quinnipiac University polls conducted in May.
The results are somewhat surprising since the new polls mark the first time in 2012 that the Quinnipiac pollsters have reported the preferences of those deemed most likely to vote in November rather than all registered voters. As such, the New York Times report warns explicitly that the new findings "cannot be compared with previous surveys."
Such "likely voter" screens typically boost the Republican candidates by a few percentage points over their standings among all registered voters. Some national poll questions (but not all) have shown Republicans enjoying early advantages in measures of voter engagement.
The Times report also concludes that the "torrent of television advertising" aired by the Obama campaign, "particularly in Ohio and Florida, appears to be resonating" in Obama's favor. When asked about Romney's business experience, voters in all three states were more likely to say that "Romney's kind of business experience was too focused on making profits" rather than being "the right kind of business experience to get the economy creating jobs again."
Voters in all three states held narrowly favorable opinions of Obama, while Romney received slightly unfavorable ratings in Florida and Ohio, and an eight-point unfavorable rating in Pennsylvania.
Voters were much more likely to feel that Obama cared about their needs and problems, but also were slightly more likely to predict that his economic policies would hurt their personal finances than Romney's would. A quarter or fewer of voters in each of the swing states said Obama's policies were already improving the economy, but three in 10 voters in Florida and Ohio, and 35 percent of those in Pennsylvania, held out hope, saying his policies hadn't yet worked, but would, if given more time.
The president's lead was greatest in Pennsylvania, where it reached the double-digits, largely due to support from independent voters and women. In 2008, he won the state by more than 10 points.
Obama had a six point lead in Ohio, which he won in 2008 by four points. The gender gap, at 21 points, was also most pronounced in the Buckeye State, with men preferring Romney, and nearly 6 in 10 women backing Obama.
The poll also gave Obama a six-point lead in Florida, which he took in 2008 by three points. Much of his current energy in the state came from Hispanic voters, who preferred him by a 19-point margin.
In each case, the polls show Obama winning by wider margins than HuffPost Pollster's charts, which are based on all public polls.
The polls were conducted by live interviewers, over both landline and cell phones, querying 1,168 likely Pennsylvania voters, 1,193 likely Ohio voters and 1,177 likely Florida voters. Each poll was conducted between July 24 and July 30 and had a 3 percent margin of error.
Birth Certificate -- "Born In The USA"
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Osama Bin Laden Killed -- "Tonight, Tonight"
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/01/osama-bin-laden-dead-killed_n_856091.html" target="_hplink"><strong>(May 1, 2011)</strong></a> -- In a televised address to the nation, Obama announces that Osama bin Laden is dead. His death was the result of a U.S. operation launched today in Abbottabad, Pakistan, against a compound where bin Laden was believed to be hiding. "[T]oday's achievement is a testament to the greatness of our country and the determination of the American people," Obama proclaimed. (Photo by Pete Souza/The White House via Getty Images)
Debt Ceiling Deal -- "Gold On The Ceiling"
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/02/obama-debt-ceiling-deal-jobs_n_916285.html" target="_hplink"><strong>(Aug. 2, 2011) --</strong></a> After the Senate passed a bill to raise the debt limit, Obama pleaded with Congress to shift their attention to jobs. "I will urge them to immediately take some steps -- bipartisan, common-sense steps -- that will make a difference; that will create a climate where businesses can hire, where folks have more money in their pockets to spend, where people who are out of work can find good jobs," he said. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)
Don't Ask Don't Tell -- "Don't Stop Believin'"
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/20/barack-obama-dont-ask-dont-tell-repeal-statement_n_971662.html" target="_hplink"><strong>(Sept. 20, 2011) --</strong></a> As the ban on gays serving in the military came to an end, Obama hailed the fresh start, celebrating the fact that "patriotic Americans in uniform will no longer have to lie about who they are in order to serve the country they love." (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
Iraq War To End -- "Homeward Bound"
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/21/obama-iraq-troop-withdrawal_n_1024108.html" target="_hplink"><strong>(Oct. 21, 2011) --</strong></a> Obama announced that all U.S. troops will be out of Iraq by 2011, fulfilling a promise that dated back to his campaign. "As a candidate for president, I pledged to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end," Obama said. "So today I can report that, as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year." (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Singing Al Green's "Let's Stay Together"
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Singing Robert Johnson's "Sweet Home Chicago"
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Gay Marriage -- "Can't Fight This Feeling"
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/09/obama-gay-marriage_n_1503245.html" target="_hplink"><strong>(May 9, 2012) --</strong></a> In a sit-down interview with ABC's Robin Roberts, Obama explained his evolution on the issue, affirming his support for gay marriage. "[A]t a certain point I've just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married," he said.
Immigration -- "With Arms Wide Open"
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/15/obama-immigration-order-deportation-dream-act_n_1599658.html " target="_hplink"><strong>(June 15, 2012) --</strong></a> The Obama administration addressed America's immigration issue, announcing that it will halt deportations and grant work permits to young individuals eligible for Dream-Act benefits. "They pledge allegiance to our flag," Obama said. "They are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper."(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Health Care Reform -- "Beautiful Day"
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/28/supreme-court-health-care-decision_n_1585131.html" target="_hplink"><strong>(June 28, 2012) --</strong></a> After weeks of speculation that Obama's signature piece of legislation could be overturned, the Supreme Court ruled that the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate is constitutional. "It should be pretty clear that I didn't do this because it's good politics," <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/28/obama-health-care-ruling_n_1632953.html" target="_hplink">Obama said</a>. "I did it because it's good for the country." (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)