United States President Barack Obama is ahead in Ohio, and he's roughly tied with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in Florida, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist polls.

With only three days left before the election, the candidates’ standings in these key states are important in different ways. For Obama, a win in Ohio would give him 18 electoral votes, bringing him close to the 270 that would secure his second term in office. For Romney, Florida's 29 electoral votes are vital to beating the incumbent.

Obama holds a six-point lead in Ohio in the latest poll, 51 to 45 percent, a figure that is unchanged from last month. In Florida, however, Obama’s advantage is within the margin of error, 49 percent to Romney’s 47 percent.  

NBC/WSJ/Marist polls for Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida suggest early voters are more likely voting to keep Obama in office. In Florida, 63 percent of poll respondents said they have already voted or will do so before the election, and 53 percent of them said they are supporting the incumbent. Romney, however, is ahead among voters who plan to cast their ballots the old fashioned way, by heading to the polls at their local high school or church on Tuesday.

Fewer poll respondents in Ohio -- 35 percent -- said they’re voting before Tuesday, but among these early birds, Obama has a clear advantage at 62 percent. But, as in Florida, poll respondents who said they’re casting their ballots on Tuesday are leaning toward Romney.

These latest polls were conducted since Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast, and they give the first indications of the public’s approval of Obama’s handling of the crisis that killed at least 109 in the U.S., destroyed billions of dollars of property and left millions without power. Seven out of 10 poll respondents, many of them Republicans, gave the president thumbs up for his handling of the situation.

As far as approval of the president’s handling of the economy, however, Obama’s lead evaporates into a virtual tie, considering the margin of error. In Ohio, Obama has a two-percentage-point lead against his rival on the question of who would do a better job with the economy, while in Florida, Romney holds that same lead.

For the Senate, Democrats Sherrod Brown in Ohio and Florida’s Bill Nelson lead beyond the margins of error against their rivals.

The polls was conducted between Tuesday and Thursday. In Florida 1,545 likely voters were surveyed with a margin of error of 2.1 percentage points. In Ohio, 971 likely voters were contacted, and that margin of error was larger, at 3.1 percentage points.  

The RCP running index of recent polling data has both candidates essentially tied with Obama up by five points in a recent National Journal survey and Romney up by five points according to Gallup.

Obama is scheduled to continue stumping in Ohio on Saturday a day after he took advantage of the recent jobs report and attacked Romney for his false claims that Chrysler Group LLC is moving Jeep production to China, a claim that was rejected profanely by the company’s vice president Ralph Gilles after real estate mogul Donald Trump repeated the false allegation.