President Obama's standing in a trio of battleground states is improving, while GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney is struggling on the key test of favorability, two new polls show.
Quinnipiac University polled hypothetical general election matchups in the key general election states of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. In Florida, Obama leads Romney 49-42%; in Ohio, the lead is 47-41%. Pennsylvania is a closer battle, with Obama's 45-42% lead roughly equaling the margin of error.
Those three states account for 67 electoral votes toward the 270 a candidate needs to garner to win the election. Since 1960, no candidate has won the White House without winning two of those three key states.
About one in five voters in the states say they still haven't heard enough about Romney to form an opinion. His net-favorability rating -- the difference between voters who view him favorably and those who view him unfavorably -- was weakest in Ohio.
Nationally, the numbers are even more daunting for Romney. A new ABC News/Washington Post poll found that only 34% of voters had a favorable opinion of the former Massachusetts governor, and half viewed him unfavorably.
Diving deeper, only 8% of voters had a "strongly favorable" view of Romney, compared to 31% who felt that way about Obama. His favorable rating has largely stayed the same since last fall, while his unfavorable rating has continued to climb.
In the battleground states, Quinnipiac University's Peter Brown attributed Obama's gains over Romney to the improving economy. Six in 10 voters in each state said the economy was recovering, and only one in six blamed the president for rising gas prices.
The race in Pennsylvania appeared closer because more voters there said they though Romney would do a better job on the economy.
Other issues that have dominated the campaign recently like same-sex marriage and contraception "are lower priorities for the voters," Brown added. But voters overwhelmingly preferred Democrats on those issues in all three states.
Obama's job approval rating was shy of 50% in each state, a threshold that traditionally indicates an incumbent is in favorable political standing.
In Florida, 47% approved of Obama's performance; 47% of Ohioans did, and 45% of Pennsylvanians did.
Voters generally viewed the Democratic Party as a whole more favorably than the GOP.
Obama posted bigger leads over Rick Santorum in each state -- 50-37% in Florida, 47-40% in Ohio and 48-41% in Pennsylvania.
Original source: Improving economy boosts Obama in battleground states