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Obama leads Romney in three key swing states

(CBS News) President Obama leads Mitt Romney among likely voters in Ohio and Florida - and has a double-digit lead in Pennsylvania - according to a Quinnipiac University/CBS News/New York Times poll released this morning.

The poll, conducted from July 24-30, shows Mr. Obama leading his presumptive Republican challenger 53 percent to 42 percent in Pennsylvania. The 11-point lead results largely from independents, who favor the president by 22 points, and women, who favor the president by 24 points.

Mr. Obama holds a six-point lead in Ohio, 50 percent to 44 percent, a state where he holds a campaign event later today. His lead here is also due in large part to women, who back him by a 21-point margin. Romney leads by ten points among Ohio men, and seven points among Ohio whites.

Special section: Swing state stories

(CBS News' Jim Axelrod reports on poll results in Ohio on Wednesday.)

In Florida, Mr. Obama also holds a six point lead, 51 percent to 45 percent. He holds a small lead among both men and women and a 19-point lead among Hispanics, while Romney leads by double-digits among whites and voters age 65 and above.

The president is viewed more favorably in all three swing states, and is far more likely to be seen as caring about voters' needs and problems. Voters are split on Romney's business background: While roughly 42 percent say it will help him create jobs, about half say it is too focused on profits. Less than one third of voters say either candidates' policies will help their financial situation, though Romney has a slight edge on this question. Voters are also slightly more likely to say Mr. Obama's policies will hurt them financially.

Mr. Obama's voters are significantly more likely to strongly favor him in all three states. Romney's support is substantially more likely to come from those who say they are motivated primarily by their dislike of the other candidate.

In Pennsylvania, for example, 59 percent of Obama voters strongly favor the president, while 41 percent of Romney voters strongly favor the former Massachusetts governor. While 22 percent of Romney voters say they are backing him because they dislike the president, only 7 percent are backing Mr. Obama because they dislike Romney.

Nine in 10 Romney voters say their mind is made up. Supporters of Mr. Obama are slightly more likely to say they could change their mind.

Mr. Obama's favorable rating is 50 percent or slightly higher in all three states. Romney's favorable rating, meanwhile, hovers around 40 percent. In all three states the president's favorable rating is higher than his unfavorable rating, while Romney's unfavorable rating is higher than his favorable rating. Meantime, Mr. Obama's job approval is split in all three states: in Florida and Ohio, 48 percent approve of the job he's doing, 48 percent disapprove; in Pennsylvania, 49 percent approve while 46 percent disapprove.

The president is seen as better to handle both national security and health care in all three states. Voters are split on who is best to handle the economy, which polls show is the issue most important to Americans.

One issue that's dogged Romney is the release of his tax returns. He's insisted the two years he's released (one only an estimate at this point) is plenty, but a majority of voters in all three states disagree with him. Just over 50 percent in each state say a candidate should release several years of tax returns while just under 20 percent in all three say one or two years of returns will suffice. Around one in four say candidates should not release returns at all.

This poll was conducted by telephone from Quinnipiac University's interviewing facility July 24-30, 2012. The number of likely voters interviewed in each state is 1,177 in Florida, 1,193 in Ohio and 1,168 in Pennsylvania. In all three states, phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the sample in each state could be plus or minus three percentage points in Florida, Ohio and in Pennsylvania. The error for subgroups may be higher. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

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