Obama Expands Leads Over Romney in Florida and Ohio, Poll Says

President Barack Obama has extended his lead over Republican challenger Mitt Romney in Florida and Ohio, swing states that may decide the winner of the Nov. 6 election, according to a survey released today.

The Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News poll gave Obama a 53 percent to 44 percent lead in Florida and a 53 percent to 43 percent advantage in Ohio. The two states together have 47 electoral votes at stake.

The poll shows improvement in the president’s political position over last month, when he led by 49 percent to 46 percent in Florida and by 50 percent to 44 percent in Ohio. The earlier survey was taken before the Republican convention in Tampa, Florida, and the Democrats’ in Charlotte, North Carolina. Since the conventions ended, most polls have shown Obama leading Romney both nationally and in key states.

Florida, the fourth-most-populous state, and Ohio, the seventh, are among nine politically competitive states where Obama and Romney have been focusing their advertising and candidate visits. Both states almost always vote the same way as the nation at large: Ohio has sided with the White House winner in 12 consecutive presidential elections dating to 1964, the longest active streak in the nation, and Florida has done so in those same elections except for 1992. Obama and Romney plan to campaign in Ohio today.

The poll also gave Obama a 54 percent to 42 percent advantage over Romney in Pennsylvania, a Democratic-leaning state where the candidates and most outside groups aren’t airing television ads.

More Disappointed

Obama leads in Florida and Ohio even as more people there are disappointed than satisfied with his presidency. In Florida, 50 percent said they were “very” or “somewhat” disappointed in Obama’s presidency, compared with 49 percent who said they were very or somewhat satisfied. In Ohio, 51 percent said they were disappointed and 49 percent satisfied.

The president’s advantages in Florida and Ohio owe partly to his having a better public image than Romney, a former Massachusetts governor and private-equity executive. Majorities in both states said they have a favorable impression of Obama, while pluralities in both states said they have an unfavorable impression of Romney, according to the survey.

Obama outperformed Romney by wide margins when voters were asked if the candidates care about the needs and problems of people. In Florida, 57 percent of respondents said that about Obama, compared with 41 percent for Romney. The gap was wider in Ohio, where 59 percent said Obama cares about people’s needs and problems, compared with 38 percent who said that about Romney.

Worsening Image

Romney’s worsening image also was underscored in an ABC News/Washington Post poll, conducted Sept. 19-23. It said that 61 percent disapprove of how he is handling his presidential campaign, up from 49 percent in mid-July.

In Florida and Ohio, voters said Obama would be better than Romney in handling health care and an international crisis, according to the Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News survey. Obama also led Romney on the economy and taxes, while Romney has the edge on curbing the federal budget deficit, the survey said.

The telephone poll was conducted Sept. 18-24 of 1,196 likely voters in Florida, 1,162 likely voters in Ohio and 1,180 likely voters in Pennsylvania. The margin of error was plus or minus 2.8 percentage points in Florida and plus or minus 2.9 percentage points in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

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