McCain has tried to distance himself from Bush and portray himself as an agent of change. But the poll indicates he has had only limited success. Among crucial independent voters, 47% in Ohio and 52% in Florida said they believed McCain would continue Bush's policies.
Both Obama and McCain are proving to have appeal among independent voters -- but in different places. In Florida, Obama leads among independent respondents by 51% to 35%. In Ohio, McCain leads among them, 49% to 38%.
Obama is leading solidly among women in both states, as he has elsewhere. But he also is competitive among men: Florida men polled slightly favored him, 49% to 44%, and Ohio men gave McCain only a 44%-41% edge.
An age gap also is evident: Obama dominates the 18-34 age group by double-digit margins. McCain does better -- but more narrowly -- among the over-65 crowd. That is an especially important constituency in Florida.
But Obama's show of strength in Florida is particularly striking because Republicans long thought the state was in the bag for McCain. Obama has poured resources into the Republican-dominated state to register tens of thousands of new voters -- and it seems to be paying off.
"Some people weren't inclined to vote in the past because they thought it was a slam-dunk for Republicans," said Virginia Fitch, 68, in Alva, Fla. "People are very excited about Obama."
The survey was conducted Saturday through Monday under the supervision of Times Poll Director Susan Pinkus. In Florida, 809 registered voters were interviewed, including 639 deemed likely to vote. In Ohio, 816 registered voters were interviewed, including 644 likely voters. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 3 percentage points for registered voters, plus or minus 4 points for likely voters.