US President Barack Obama has widened his lead in the two main battleground states in the 2012 White House race as well as in Pennsylvania, according to a new opinion poll released Wednesday.
The Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News poll put Obama ahead of Republican challenger Mitt Romney 53% to 44% in Florida, 53% to 43% in Ohio and 54% to 42% in Pennsylvania, less than six weeks ahead of the November 6 vote.
Florida has the most electoral votes of any of the so-called swing states expected to decide the election, and no Republican has ever become president without winning Ohio.
Obama’s favorability rating in all three states was a comfortable 54%, while Romney’s was 41%.
Even worse for Romney, the poll found that more than 90% of voters in all three states have made up their minds, leaving a dwindling number of independents that could be swayed by more television ads or campaign events.
The survey was carried out September 18-24, in the aftermath of what was arguably the worst week of Romney’s quest for the White House.
The candidate faced a barrage of criticism — including from fellow conservatives — after a hasty statement accusing Obama of sympathizing with Islamist protesters hours after the US ambassador to Libya was killed.
A video surfaced days later showing Romney giving a speech to wealthy donors in which he said 47 percent of Americans were freeloaders who would vote for Obama in order to keep getting government handouts.
Romney will have a chance to stage a comeback next month when the candidates hold a series of televised debates, and the sluggish US economy or turmoil in the Middle East could yet weigh down on Obama’s re-election bid.
The survey was conducted by phone among nearly 1,200 likely voters in each of the three states, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3%.