Mitt Romney gains on Obama in Florida and Ohio, says poll

Mitt Romney and President Obama are in a dead heat in Florida and Ohio. Obama still leads in the key swing state of Pennsylvania, says new poll. 

(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks in Chantilly, Va. The latest Quinnipiac University poll shows Romney closing the gap with Barack Obama in Florida and Ohio.

President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney could be headed for a photo finish in Florida this November, a poll released Thursday shows.

Forty-four percent of 1,169 Florida voters surveyed by Quinnipiac University between April 25 and May 1 said they'd vote for Romney if the election were now, compared to 43 percent who said they prefer the president. The latest snapshot of voter preferences has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points. The new figures were an improvement for Romney, who trailed Obama by 7 percentage points among Florida voters in late March.

The Connecticut-based polling institute also showed Obama with 44 percent to 42 percent for Romney in Ohio, that's within the margin of error for the poll. .

The university's poll last month showed Obama ahead of Romney in Ohio by a slightly bigger margin. But that was before former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum got out of the race.

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The poll taken over the last week shows Obama doing much better among women, while men are strongly behind the former Massachusetts governor.

The survey of 1,130 Ohio voters has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

Meanwhile, the new poll shows that the president was favored by 47 percent to 39 percent among Pennsylvania voters.

No one has won the presidency since 1960 without carrying two of the three key swing states.

Florida, the nation's fourth largest state, provides 29 of the required 270 electoral votes needed to win. Obama carried Florida by nearly a quarter million votes in his 2008 win over Republican John McCain.

The new survey shows the sluggish economy working in Romney's favor at the moment with voters in the Sunshine State. Nearly half, 49 percent, said they believed Romney would do a better job handing the economy while 40 percent said Obama would do better.

And while Obama appears to have strong support among women voters nationally, Quinnipiac's survey showed it much tighter in Florida where the female preferences were almost evenly split.

Roughly two-thirds of the respondents in all three states believe the economy is in a recession although at least 51 percent in each of the states felt a recovery was underway.

The poll showed Florida voters also support repeal of the 2010 health care reform legislation supported by Obama by a 51 to 38 percent margin and oppose the U.S. military's presence in Afghanistan by better than a two-to-one margin although they approved of Obama's handling of the situation and the pace that he has started to withdraw troops from the war-torn central Asian nation.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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