U.S. President Barack Obama has widened his lead in the two main battleground states in the 2012 White House race as well as in Pennsylvania, according to a new opinion poll released Wednesday.
The Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News poll put Mr. Obama ahead of Republican challenger Mitt Romney 53 per cent to 44 per cent in Florida, 53 per cent to 43 per cent in Ohio and 54 per cent to 42 per cent in Pennsylvania, less than six weeks ahead of the Nov. 6 vote.
Florida has the most electoral votes of any of the so-called swing states expected to decide the election, and no Republican has ever become president without winning Ohio.
Mr. Obama’s favourability rating in all three states was a comfortable 54 per cent, while Mr. Romney’s was 41 per cent.
Even worse for Mr. Romney, the poll found that more than 90 per cent of voters in all three states have made up their minds, leaving a dwindling number of independents that could be swayed by more television ads or campaign events.
The survey was carried out Sept. 18-24, in the aftermath of what was arguably the worst week of Mr. Romney’s quest for the White House.
The candidate faced a barrage of criticism – including from fellow conservatives – after a hasty statement accusing Mr. Obama of sympathizing with Islamist protesters hours after the U.S. ambassador to Libya was killed.
A video surfaced days later showing Mr. Romney giving a speech to wealthy donors in which he said 47 per cent of Americans were freeloaders who would vote for Mr. Obama in order to keep getting government handouts.
Mr. Romney will have a chance to stage a comeback next month when the candidates hold a series of televised debates, and the sluggish U.S. economy or turmoil in the Middle East could yet weigh down on Mr. Obama’s re-election bid.
The survey was conducted by phone among nearly 1,200 likely voters in each of the three states, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 per cent.