By Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Anthony Salvanto, Fred Backus and Brian Montopoli
President Obama has maintained a five-point lead in the crucial swing state of Ohio, according to a new Quinnipiac University/CBS News/New York Times poll of likely voters. The survey found that Mitt Romney has gained ground in Florida and Virginia, where the race is now effectively tied.
Mr. Obama now leads Romney 50 percent to 45 percent among likely voters in Ohio - exactly where the race stood on Oct. 22. His lead in Florida, however, has shrunk from nine points in September to just one point in the new survey, which shows Mr. Obama with 48 percent support and Romney with 47 percent. The president's lead in Virginia has shrunk from five points in early October to two points in the new survey, which shows him with a 49 percent to 47 percent advantage.
The margin of error in the poll is plus or minus three percentage points. The survey was taken from Oct. 23 to 28 and completed before the onset of the "superstorm" Sandy.
Romney has taken the lead among seniors in Florida in the new survey and increased his lead among white voters, and he has a significant advantage among independents in Virginia. In Florida and Ohio, the candidates are now running about even on handling the economy. In Virginia, Romney has an edge.
In Florida and Ohio, the president leads among those who have already cast their ballots, with a significant lead in Ohio, 60 to 34 percent. In Florida, Mr. Obama is up 50 to 44 percent. Among those who have yet to cast their vote, the two candidates are even in these states. Just a small percentage of voters in Virginia have already voted.
There are few voters left in these swing states who haven't made up their minds. Now, at least 95 percent of likely voters - including both Obama and Romney voters - have decided who they will support.
Most supporters from both camps say they strongly favor their candidate, though Mr. Obama's are slightly more likely to say they strongly favor him. But Romney has been improving on this measure - especially in Florida, from 57 percent a month ago to 74 percent today - nearly even with the president.
As they have throughout the fall, in all three states Republicans remain more enthusiastic about voting this year than Democrats. Florida Republicans in particular have become far more enthusiastic than Democrats over the past month. There is now a 16-point enthusiasm gap between Republicans and Democrats in Florida, 63 percent to 47 percent, up from four points a month ago (52 to 48 percent).