President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are locked in tight races in two key swing states -- Florida and Ohio -- while the president leads his GOP rival in another, Pennsylvania.
A Quinnipiac poll released Thursday showed Romney catching up with Obama in Florida and Ohio, where the two are essentially locked in a tie. But in Pennsylvania, where Obama has a 50 percent approval rating, the president has an eight-percentage point lead over Romney, 47-39 percent.
The poll shows voters are still concerned about the economy, with most saying the country is still in a recession. Nonetheless, in each swing state polled, a majority of voters feel the U.S. economy is in recovery.
Overall, Obama is doing slightly better than Romney in these critical swing states today, said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
In Florida, where Romney has the slight lead, 44-43 percent, most voters disapprove of how Obama is performing his job, 50-46 percent. Half say the president does not deserve to be reelected. Florida had the most voters say the country is still in a recession, 70-26 percent, with 51 percent saying the economy is in recovery.
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In Ohio, Obama leads Romney 44-42 percent. Unlike Florida, there is a gender gap between the two candidates. Ohio women prefer Obama 50-37 percent, while men support Romney 48-38 percent.
On the economic front, 67 percent of Ohio voters say America is in recession, but 55 percent say the recovery has begun. Still, more voters feel Romney would handle the economy better than the president, 47 - 43 percent.
Brown says that Romney is beginning to consolidate support from Republican voters now that the primary is effectively over. Also, the last few months of not-so-hot economic numbers has given Romney a boost.
Voter optimism about the economy has leveled off, reflecting economic statistics over the past month and the public reaction to them, Brown said.
Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, Obama's economic message seems to be catching on with voters, especially women, who support the president over Romney by 15 percentage points.
Obama, with a 50 percent approval rating, is pulling away from Romney in a state where 44 percent of voters say the president would do a better job on the economy, nearly tied with Romney receives. Pennsylvania voters are also more optimistic about the economy, as 56 percent say the nation is in recovery.
Of the three states, Pennsylvania is the one in which the largest number of voters say the economy is beginning to recover, Brown said.