President Barack Obama. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
By David Jackson, USA TODAY
States elect presidents via the Electoral College, and new polls give President Obama the lead in three big ones: Ohio, Florida, and Virginia.
Obama leads Republican challenger Mitt Romney 50%-43% in Ohio, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll. No Republican has ever won a presidential election without winning Ohio.
Other NBC/WSJ/Marist polls put Obama ahead 49%-44% in both Florida and Virginia.
The last Republican president, George W. Bush, carried Ohio, Florida and Virginia en route to re-election in 2004; Romney may need to win all of them if he is to rack up the 270 electoral votes needed to win.
The numbers track with those in national polls; USA TODAY's Susan Page reported today that Obama leads Romney 50%-44% in the latest Gallup daily tracking poll.
"You'd rather be in Obama's shoes than Romney's in these three critical states," said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.
He added that the lead is not insurmountable, especially with three presidential debates coming up next month.