Poll: Obama, Romney in Dead Heat in Florida, Ohio

BY Christina Bellantoni and Terence Burlij  May 3, 2012 at 9:23 AM EST

President Obama; photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama speaks at Ohio State University earlier this year. Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

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

TOP TWEETS

OUTSIDE THE LINES

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.

Follow the politics team on Twitter: @cbellantoni, @burlij, @elizsummers, @kpolantz and @indiefilmfan.