A new Quinnipiac University poll of Florida voters released Thursday gave Kerry a 47%-41% lead over Bush, with independent Ralph Nader netting 4% in the state. Without Nader, Kerry leads 49% to 41%.
The poll, conducted Aug. 5-10, surveyed 1,094 registered voters in the state with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. The same poll in late June found a dead heat.
Another survey, conducted Aug. 4-10 in Michigan by EPIC-MRA, gave Kerry a 7-percentage-point lead, 49% to 42%.
New polls released this week by American Research Group showed the Democrat with leads in Ohio and New Hampshire -- two battleground states won by Bush in 2000.
Democratic strategists pointed to the poll numbers to explain the escalating words from their opponents.
"There's no need to go that hard, that negative, this early -- unless you're in panic mode," a senior Kerry strategist said.
Republicans, however, said Thursday that all was well.
"I'd still rather be us than them," said John Sowinski, a Republican political consultant in Florida.
Times staff writers Maura Reynolds and Michael Finnegan contributed to this report. Wallsten reported from Washington, Barabak from Medford, Ore.