Two of the states are familiar bellwethers, the third a relative newcomer to the swing-state category. For either Mitt Romney or President Obama, a clean sweep would guarantee victory on election night.
And, for the moment, it's Obama with the advantage in Ohio, Florida and Virginia, according to a new round of polls from NBC News and Marist. In Florida and Virginia, Obama leads 48% to 44%. In Ohio, Obama's lead is 48% to 42%.
The margin, though, has narrowed in each state since Romney essentially clinched the Republican nomination and will probably continue to fluctuate as both campaigns start honing their general election messages there. The fact that Obama's standing is just shy of the key 50% threshold shows how he still has work to do making his case.
For the moment, voters in each state are giving the president the benefit of the doubt on the economy. Voters narrowly give him a positive grade in handling the economy, and by a more sizable margin say the lingering problems are ones he inherited, not ones that resulted from his policies.