Polls released Wednesday showed President Barack Obama narrowly edging his Republican rival Mitt Romney in Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio -- three battlegrounds that went for Obama in 2008 but will be toss ups in November.
The polls from Quinnipiac University showed Obama with a razor-thin four point advantage in Florida, 45 percent-41 percent. That was within the poll's 2.8 percent sampling error. In Pennsylvania, Obama's led Romney 45 percent-39 percent, and in Ohio, the Democratic incumbent was ahead 47 percent-38 percent.
"President Barack Obama has decent margins over Gov. Mitt Romney in Ohio and Pennsylvania and a smaller advantage in Florida. If he can keep those leads in all three of these key swing states through election day he would be virtually assured of re-election," Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, wrote in a statement accompanying the poll's release.
"Of course the election is more than four months away, which is a lifetime in politics," Brown added.
In Florida, Obama's small advantage is bolstered by strong backing from Florida Latinos, who support Obama over Romney 56 percent-32 percent.
The president and Romney both addressed a Latino gathering in Orlando last week following Obama's decision in early June to allow some young illegal immigrants to avoid deportation. Wednesday poll showed a jump in Latino support for Obama in Florida from earlier in June, when he enjoyed a ten point lead over Romney.
Floridians, by large measure, support Obama's immigration directive, which would allow some young people brought to the United States illegally to apply for a work permit. Applicants must be under the age of 30 and brought to the U.S. before the age of 16, have been in the country for at least five consecutive years, have no criminal history, graduated from a U.S. high school or earned a GED or served in the military.
Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed in Florida support Obama's new immigration measure, compared to 33 percent who do not support the initiative. Overall, 46 percent said Obama would do a better job than Romney handling immigration.
On the economy, however, Floridians were more confident in Romney. Forty-six percent said the former Massachusetts governor and two-time presidential candidate would handle the economy better, compared to 44 percent who named Obama.
Florida, which went for Obama in 2008 by two points, is considered a "toss up" in 2012 on CNN's Electoral Map.
In Pennsylvania, a state the president also won in 2008, Obama's lead is strengthened by strong gender gap. He leads Romney 48 percent-36 percent among women, while among men, he's statistically tied with Romney, 41 percent-42 percent.
Pennsylvanians were split on which candidate would do a better job handling the economy, with 44 percent naming Obama and 44 percent naming Romney. Those numbers reflect a shift from previous polls, which gave Romney an edge on handling of the economy.
"For much of the last year, more voters in these swing states have said Romney would do a better job on the economy. That advantage has largely disappeared, at least for now," Brown wrote.
Pennsylvania is rated "Lean Obama" on the CNN Electoral Map.
Ohio, which the CNN Map rates a "Toss Up," also showed a marked gender gap on presidential preference. Men were split, with 45 percent backing Obama and 42 percent backing Romney. Women, however, were more likely to back Obama, with 50 percent saying the support the president and 35 percent backing Romney.
Obama was well ahead of Romney on favorability -- 50 percent said they viewed the president favorably, compared to only 32 percent who said the same of his Republican opponent. On the flip side, 44 percent viewed Obama unfavorably, compared to 46 percent viewed Romney that way.
"The horse race numbers reflect the general view of voters that they like the president better," Brown said. "Obama has a net favorable view among Ohio voters and he is viewed evenly by those in Pennsylvania and Florida, while Romney's favorable/unfavorable ratio is negative in all three states."
The Quinnipiac Poll was taken by telephone between June 19-25. In each state, the sampling error was plus or minus 2.8 percentage points. In Florida, 1,200 voters were surveyed; in Pennsylvania, 1,252 voters were called; and in Ohio, 1,237 were polled.