Polls Split on Race in Ohio, Florida


(Courtesy: MGN Online)

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By Gregory Wallace, CNN

(CNN) — New state polls in Ohio and Florida are divided about the state of the presidential race in these two key battlegrounds.

In Ohio, arguably the most important of the battlegrounds, a NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll released Saturday showed Obama with 51% of likely voters and Romney at 45%. The CNN/ORC International Poll released Friday found the Buckeye State slightly tighter and within the sampling error: 50% for Obama to 47% for Romney.

Samples in Florida split more widely. The NBC poll showed Obama with a slight advantage over Romney, 49% to 47%, while a Mason Dixon Poll conducted in the same time period, Wednesday and Thursday, had Romney at 51% and Obama at 45%.

Obama enjoyed a high approval in both states of his handling of Superstorm Sandy, which battered the East Coast this past week and caused both campaigns to cancel campaign events.

The NBC/WSJ poll found that among likely voters in Florida — a state which has seen hurricanes and major storms — 70% approved of his response to Sandy, while 11% disapproved. Seventy three percent of likely voters in Ohio approved and 7% disapproved.

The two states are the largest prizes listed as toss up states on the CNN Electoral Map, and both will see attention from the candidates in the final three days before Election Day.

Obama holds an advantage among early voters in both states, according to the NBC/WSJ polls, while Romney enjoys the advantage among those who plan to vote on Election Day. The survey found 63% of Florida voters plan to vote before Tuesday or already have voted.

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However the Mason Dixon Florida poll — conducted for Bay News 9, Central Florida News 13, Tampa Bay Times, Miami Herald, and the El Nuevo Herald — found Romney with a 53% to 45% advantage among those voting absentee and a 50% to 47% among those voting early in-person.

Voters were nearly tied — putting the candidates within two points of one another — on who would best handle the economy, according to the NBC/WSJ survey. Romney has the slight advantage in Florida, while the slight advantage goes to Obama in Ohio.

Both states also have races for the U.S. Senate. In Florida, the NBC/WSJ poll found Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson is ahead of Republican Rep. Connie Mack, 52% to 43%, and in Ohio, Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown has an advantage over Republican State Treasurer Josh Mandel, 50% to 45%.

The NBC/WSJ poll in Ohio included 971 likely voters and had a sampling error of plus or minus 3.1 points. Their Florida sample included 1,545 likely voters with a sampling error of plus or minus 2.5 points. Voters both NBC/WSJ polls were reached by telephone on October 31 or November 1.

The Mason Dixon poll included 800 likely voters reached by telephone in Florida and was conducted between October 30 and November 1. It had a sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 points.

— CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report

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