- (Photo: Reuters/Brian Snyder)
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is seeing the fruits of his strong debate performance against President Barack Obama last week come to bear as updated data polls in several key swing states are giving him the lead over his rival.
The most dramatic of changes was reported on Thursday by a Tampa Bay Times/Bay News 9/Miami Herald poll, which shows that likely voters in Florida now favor Romney over Obama by as much as 7 percentage points. The former Massachusetts governor now holds 51 percent of support against Obama's 44 percent, marking a big turnaround from when the same poll surveyed voters last month and showed Obama leading 48 percent to 47 percent.
"There's no question in my mind that debate made people stand up and pay attention, and it really wiped away any questions people had about Romney, whether they were undecided or soft for Obama," remarked Brad Coker of Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, which conducted the poll.
"It's a very big shift since the debate, and where the shifts are taking place are very, very interesting because they are the types of shifts you see in Florida when something starts to break one way or another," he added.
Not all Florida polls are showing the same results, however. An NBC/WSJ/Marist poll showed Obama leading in Florida by one percent on Thursday -- but on Friday, Rasmussen Reports and ARG polls again said Romney was leading by four and three percent respectively.
The battle for the other swing states was identified in daily statistics posted by Real Clear Politics.
On Thursday, two separate polls gave Obama the lead in Michigan, by seven and two percentage points respectively. Romney, however, gained ground in the state following the debate by 1.5 percentage points, with Real Clear Politics projecting that Michigan is moving toward a "toss up."
"Today's news reflects what we are seeing and feeling on the ground, the momentum is in Gov. Romney's favor," said Bobby Schostak, chairman of the Michigan Republican Party.
Virginia remains as hotly disputed as ever, but trends are showing Romney gaining the edge. On Thursday, NBC/WSJ/Marist gave Romney a one-point lead, standing in contrast to CBS/NYT/Quinnipiac who said that Obama was up by five. Friday's Rasmussen Reports survey put Romney in the lead again by two percentage points.
Obama was also up in Wisconsin, but a poll conducted last Wednesday before the presidential debate gave him an 11-point lead in the state, while the two latest ones, on Thursday and this Wednesday, only gave him leads of three and two percentage points respectively.
Polls in Ohio remain some of the most divided among the statistics, with each candidate given the lead on each day depending on the poll. The latest number, on Thursday,shows Romney in the lead by one point in a Gravis Marketing report, while Obama is up by six according to NBC/WSJ/Marist and up by one according to Rasmussen Reports.
Among other swing states reported on Thursday, Romney holds on to narrow leads in North Carolina and Colorado by three points and one respectively, while Obama remains ahead in Nevada by two.
While the poll numbers seem to have been affected by Romney's debate performance, the September jobs report that shows the nationwide unemployment rate down to 7.8 percent, the lowest it has been in years, has not seemed to provide Obama with a significant boost as he might have hoped it would.