Obama gets boost in swing-state polls

President Obama got welcome final-week polling news Wednesday as new surveys in several keenly contested states showed him holding or expanding a lead.

In Wisconsin, a new survey from the Marquette University Law School showed Obama grabbing an 8 point lead, 51%-43%, over Mitt Romney among likely voters. The poll also showed Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin clinging to a four point edge over Republican Tommy Thompson in a race that could prove pivotal to control of the Senate.

A Marquette poll taken in mid-October in the wake of Obama’s disastrous debate performance in Denver, had given the president just a one point edge over Romney, 49%-48%.

In Ohio, a Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News poll gave Obama a 50%-45% edge over Romney. Obama has held a consistent lead in Ohio polls which Romney so far has been unable to erase.

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The Quinnipiac surveys also showed the president up by two percentage points in Virginia and one point in Florida, where the Romney campaign had been insisting it was ahead, with the race trending Romney’s way.

A University of Cincinnati poll showed Obama ahead by two points in Ohio, 48%-46%, while a survey by Public Policy  Polling, which polls for a number of Democratic groups, showed him ahead 50%-45%.

The raft of new numbers bolstered the campaign narrative from the president and his aides, who claim the electoral college math doesn’t add up for Romney and that any momentum Romney had received from the first presidential debate has now been stopped. Romney would have to sweep nearly all the states that are considered in contention to upend Obama next Tuesday.

In the battle for Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes, Obama appeared to have gained ground largely because of  self-identified independents moving back into his column and growing optimism about the course of the economy.

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Independents in the survey broke 46% for Obama and 41% for Romney, a shift from a Marquette poll earlier in the month in which they favored Romney 49%-45%.

As has been true nationally, Wisconsin voters have been expressing increasing optimism about where the economy is headed. In the latest survey, 53% of likely voters said they thought the economy would be better next year, up from 36% in January. Obama wins heavily among those who express optimism about the economy, noted the poll’s director, Charles Franklin.

The Marquette survey interviewed 1,243 likely voters between last Thursday and Sunday. The margin of error in the poll was 2.8 percentage points.

The survey’s findings in the Senate race amounted to a small rebound for Baldwin. In mid-October, the Democrat trailed Thompson by one percentage point, but in the new survey she holds a 47%-43% advantage.

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