Republican candidates Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich are both ahead of President Obama in key swing states that will decide the election in the latest USA Today/Gallup poll released Tuesday.
Romney bests Mr. Obama by 5 percentage points, 48 to 43, in the survey of voters in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. Gingrich leads 45 percent to 43 percent.
Nationally, Mr. Obama is still ahead of both the former House speaker and the former governor of Massachusetts.
Elections are not decided nationally, but are instead a series of contests throughout the country.
A candidate needs 270 electoral votes to win the electoral college, and most states are not likely to be close elections. Given past history, Mr. Obama is expected to have a base of 196 electoral votes and the eventual Republican nominee can count on a base of about 191 vote, USA Today/Gallup said.
The winner will be decided in the twelve states that make up the states where it is not clear who the likely winner will be. According to USA Today, Mr. Obama won all of them last time and needs to win about half of them to win again.
Gingrich and Romney can also expect to see more enthusiasm from Republican voters than Mr. Obama is likely to see from his party's voters. The so-called "enthusiasm gap" has switched from 2008, when Democrats were fired up about the prospects of putting their candidate in the White House.
About 61 percent of Republicans say they are extremely or very enthusiastic about voting for president in 2012, compared to just 47 percent of Demcorats who expressed enthusiasm for next year's contest.