President Obama leads in Ohio, Florida and Virginia according to new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist College polls, putting him solidly ahead of Mitt Romney in perhaps the three most important states in American electoral politics as the campaign enters its last two months.
According to the surveys, the president is ahead 49 percent to 44 percent in Florida and Virginia and 50 percent to 43 percent in Ohio. The polls, taken before the unrest in Libya and Egypt started dominating headlines, illustrate the stability of the presidential race. In late May, Obama led in these polls 48 to 44 in Florida and Virginia and 48 to 42 in Ohio.
Most polls by other news organizations of these three states have shown the president leading, although his margin has been more narrow in the majority of them. But these surveys are the first major ones in these states since the Democratic National Convention, which seems to have caused a slight increase in Obama’s support.
These three states are so important because Romney will likely have to win all three to be elected president, and Obama’s path would be very difficult if he did not win at least one of them. George W. Bush won all three states in 2004, but Obama carried them in 2008.
The data in the surveys shows the same underlying dynamics of the race that have existed for months. Obama is getting 86 percent of the non-white vote in Ohio (it was not broken down by race) and has huge leads with voters under 30, Hispanics and blacks in Florida. In all three states, women favor the president, men the former Massachusetts governor.
Fewer than seven percent of voters say they are undecided in all three of the states, putting Romney in the position of having to win nearly all of that bloc if Obama’s current supporters stick with him.
The only comfort for the former Massachusetts governor is in enthusiasm. In Florida, 68 percent of Romney supporters are very enthusiastic about voting, compared to 59 percent of Obama backers. But no such gap exists in Ohio and Virginia, where each candidate’s supporters are equally fired up about the election.