President Barack Obama has a majority of voters backing him in three critical battleground states, according to a survey released Wednesday.
The Quinnipiac University/CBS News/New York Times polls showed Obama leading his Republican challenger Mitt Romney in Florida 51%-45%, in Ohio 50%-44%, and in Pennsylvania 53%-42%. Florida and Ohio are considered toss-ups in November's general election, while Pennsylvania is rated "lean Obama" on CNN's Electoral Map.
The poll indicated that only 4% of likely voters in each of the three states had yet to decide on a candidate to support. Among Romney backers, 10% in Florida and Ohio and 9% in Pennsylvania said they could change their mind before November. Eleven percent of Obama's supporters in Florida said they could change their minds, compared to 13% in Ohio and 15% in Pennsylvania.
"If today were November 6, President Barack Obama would sweep the key swing states of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania and - if history is any guide - into a second term in the Oval Office," Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, wrote in a statement accompanying the poll's release.
Brown cited better-than-average unemployment rates in Ohio and Florida as possible factors in Obama's lead there, writing that "The president is running better in the key swing states than he is nationally."
Among self-identified independents, Obama edges Romney in Florida 47%-46%, and Ohio 47%-44%. The president's lead among independents in Pennsylvania is more robust, 58%-36%.
A gender gap persists in all three states, where women are more likely to back Obama and men go stronger for Romney.
In all three battlegrounds, an enthusiasm gap persists between the two candidates. Sixty five percent of Obama supporters in Florida say they strongly favor the president, compared to 49% of Romney's backers who say they strongly favor the Republican candidate.
In Ohio, 60% were "strongly supporting" Obama, compared to 42% who said the same for Romney. And in Pennsylvania, 59% were strong supporters of Obama and 41% were strongly supporting Romney.
On the economy, voters are split between Obama and Romney. Forty seven percent of Floridians said Romney would do a better job handing economic issues, compared to 45% who named Obama.
In Ohio, 46% of voters said Obama would better handle to economy, and 45% picked Romney. Pennsylvanians gave Obama higher marks on the economy, with 48% naming the president as better on the economy and 44% naming Romney.
"All this matters because half of all likely voters say the economy is the most important issue to their vote, far ahead of any other issue. The saving grace for Gov. Mitt Romney is that he roughly breaks even with the president on who is best on the economy," Brown said.
The Quinnipiac University/CBS News/New York Times poll was conducted by telephone July 24-30. In Florida, 1,177 likely voters were polled and the sampling error was plus or minus 2.9 percentage points. In Ohio, 1,193 likely voters were called with a sampling error of 2.8 percentage points. And in Pennsylvania, 1,168 likely voters were polled with a sampling error of 2.9 percentage points.