THE MORNING LINE -- May 3, 2012 at 9:23 AM EDT
Poll: Obama, Romney in Dead Heat in Florida, Ohio
President Obama speaks at Ohio State University earlier this year. Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.
President Obama and Mitt Romney are locked in a dead heat in two states that will likely play a deciding role in November's election: Florida and Ohio.
According to a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday, Romney holds a 44 percent to 43 percent lead in the Sunshine State, while Mr. Obama has a 44 percent to 42 percent advantage in the Buckeye State.
The numbers represent a tightening of the race since the last Quinnipiac survey in late March, which showed the president up 49-42 in Florida and 47-41 in Ohio.
The Quinnipiac poll also looked at Pennsylvania and found Mr. Obama building on his three-point lead in March. The latest snapshot had the president up 47 percent to 39 percent over Romney, moving him closer to the 10-point margin of victory he had in his 2008 race against Sen. John McCain.
To varying degrees the numbers in each state highlight the gender gap that has existed in other polls. Mr. Obama is favored by women in Florida (44 percent to 42 percent), Ohio (50-37) and Pennsylvania (52-35). Romney does better with male voters in all three states, winning them over by four points in Florida, 10 points in Ohio and three points in Pennsylvania.
With the economy expected to be the central issue of the campaign, voters in all three states said the country is still in a recession, but a majority also responded that the recovery has begun.
Romney was rated as the candidate who would do a better job on the economy by voters in Florida (49 percent to 40 percent) and Ohio (47-43), while the president edged out the former Massachusetts governor in Pennsylvania (44-43).
No candidate has won the presidency since 1960 without capturing two of these three states, and neither campaign is taking any chances this time around.
Romney spent time in Ohio last week, named some top campaign staff for the state on Wednesday and will be back in Pennsylvania on Friday, huddling privately with former rival Rick Santorum before an event at a cement factory in Pittsburgh. The president, meanwhile, will hold a rally Saturday in Columbus to officially kick-off his fall re-election campaign.
THE ELECTORAL PATH
Those battlegrounds are going to see plenty of action this year, along with a handful of other states each campaign deems as must-wins.
On Wednesday's NewsHour, Gwen Ifill talked with Christina and USA Today's Susan Page about Virginia's importance and how Mr. Obama and Romney are forging their path across the country.
Susan noted that Romney's push in the swing state was focused squarely on women. (Talking Points Memo's Evan McMorris-Santoro has more on the female backdrop of Romney's Northern Virginia event here.)
Christina talked about some of the other swing states getting attention from the campaigns this year: New Hampshire, New Mexico and Pennsylvania.
As the New Hampshire Union-Leader's John DiStaso reports Thursday, Romney is gearing up for action in the Granite State. He's hired a new state director and is expected to open his headquarters soon.
The Romney "Restore Our Future" super PAC is spending $4.3 million on this ad to air in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia.
Watch the segment here or below:
Of course, you can game it out yourself on our Vote 2012 Map Center.
VOICES FROM VIRGINIA
Cassie Chew and Ryan C. Brooks from our politics team spent Wednesday morning talking with voters at Romney's rally in Chantilly, Va., as part of the NewsHour's Listen to Me project. Here are some examples of how these voters feel about the nation.
Stephen Willard says the election is about the economy and civil liberties. Watch him here or below:
For Megan Tolosa, the election is about the economy and the environment. Watch her here below:
For Andrew Biscula, the election is about the pro-life debate. Watch him here or below:
THE LONG GOODBYE
Newt Gingrich offered the voters of South Carolina an apology Wednesday during his speech to announce he was dropping out of the presidential race. He said he felt bad for breaking their tradition of selecting the ultimate GOP nominee.
The former speaker of the House made a somewhat graceful exit, telling a group of reporters gathered in a Virginia hotel room that it doesn't matter that he doesn't think Romney is the most conservative nominee the Republicans will ever have. He said it's not a choice between Romney and Ronald Reagan, but between the former Massachusetts governor and the most liberal president the nation has seen. He left out the Saul Alinsky references and refrained from endorsing Romney, but the implication was clear whose side he's on.
Watch the speech here or below.
The Washington Post's Dana Milbank offers his take, with plenty of moon colony jokes. It's worth noting the column appears above a story on page A2 headlined "SpaceX launch faces more delays."
Romney issued a statement lauding Gingrich as bringing "creativity and intellectual vitality to American political life."
"During the course of this campaign, Newt demonstrated both eloquence and fearlessness in advancing conservative ideas. Although he long ago created an enduring place for himself in American history, I am confident that he will continue to make important contributions to our party and to the life of the nation," Romney said.
2012 LINE ITEMS
The Romney campaign's latest "Broken Promises" web video targets the president's energy policies.
Anita Kumar of the Washington Post has details on who attended Romney's Virginia fundraiser.
Huffington Post's Michael Calderone spoke with some of the 60 conservative writers invited to an off-the-record chat with Romney in Washington. He writes, "The attendees came from numerous conservative sites and right-of-center publications, including National Review, Daily Caller, American Spectator, Washington Examiner, Right Wing News, Powerline, Townhall, Ace of Spades, RiehlWorldView, White House Dossier, and Pajamas Media." One said: "The basic message I got is the primary's over and we want you on our side and working with the campaign," while another "described the meeting as 'sort of an olive branch to conservative media.'"
Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann is expected to endorse Romney at an event Thursday afternoon in Portsmouth, Va.
The Wall Street Journal dives into Democrats' problems raising money for the convention thanks in part to North Carolina's right-to-work labor laws.
The Obama campaign is tweaking Romney with a new web tool that "tracks how President Obama and Mitt Romney's policies will affect Julia, a typical middle-class woman, at each step in her life--from early childhood, through her school years, until she has a child of her own, starts a business and retires." That goes along with a memo from Stephanie Cutter arguing the presumptive GOP nominee's policies would harm women.
Judy Woodruff writes about the women's vote.
The president "has invited 150 supporters from across the country concerned about the judicial vacancy rate to the White House on Monday for a forum and strategy session with administration officials," the Washington Times reports.
Patchwork Nation's Dante Chinni writes about how this election is a lot more like 2004 than 2008.
Could texting your political donations be the next level of campaign finance?
The Hill's Cameron Joseph writes about all the state party victories Rep. Ron Paul is collecting, and what that might actually mean for Romney.
The president's former girlfriend talks about their relationship.
Politico writes that David Maraniss' book, out next month, should probably invoke some White House anxiety.
"Florida Gov. Rick Scott has refused a request to prohibit the carrying of guns in downtown Tampa during the Republican National Convention this summer," the Associated Press reports.
A fictional riff on the Romneys' wealth, from the New Yorker's Shouts & Murmurs column.
Buried in a GOP bill is a provision that could block states from spending their own money on abortions: bit.ly/JEUVWa— NickBaumann (@NickBaumann) May 3, 2012
I didn't find a dress yet for the Gridiron, but I found the shoes I'll be wearing! twitter.com/ChristineOD/st...— Christine O'Donnell (@ChristineOD) May 2, 2012
OUTSIDE THE LINES
Don't miss Hari Sreenivasan's report on the political difficulties of teaching climate change.
A new Marquette Law School poll found Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett leading former Dane County executive Kathleen Falk, 38 percent to 21 percent, ahead of next week's Democratic primary to select a challenger for Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin's recall election this June. In a general election matchup, Barrett and Walker are locked in a close race, while Walker leads Falk by six points among likely voters.
The New York Times has the latest in the John Edwards trial.
David Freedlander assesses the power of a New York Times editorial endorsement in local and state elections.
Roll Call's Shira Toeplitz scoops the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is spending nearly $500,000 to keep former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' seat in an upcoming special election.
Former President Bill Clinton reviews Robert Caro's new LBJ book, "The Passage of Power," in the New York Times. (Caro will be on an upcoming edition of the NewsHour.)
David Nakamura reports about the lasting damage the prostitution scandal could have on the Secret Service's image.
Save the date: Melinda Gates will take questions about education reform in a NewsHour chat.
A 27-year-old Missouri House member announces he's gay and opposes a bill that would limit discussion of sexual orientation in schools, the AP reports. He's a Republican.
Katelyn Polantz contributed to this report.
ON THE TRAIL
All events are listed in Eastern Time.
President Obama attends meetings at the White House and delivers remarks at a Cinco de Mayo reception in the Rose Garden at 5 p.m.
Vice President Biden attends a campaign event in Washington, D.C., at 7 p.m.
Mitt Romney holds a campaign event in Portsmouth, Va., at 1:15 p.m.
Ron Paul campaigns in California, attending a fundraising luncheon in Rancho Cordova at 2:30 p.m. and holding a town hall in Davis at 10 p.m.
All future events can be found on our Political Calendar:
For more political coverage, visit our politics page.
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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.