Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign rally with vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan in Findlay, Ohio October 28, 2012. (Photo : Reuters)
The battle for the White House continues, despite the hurricane bearing down on the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.
On Monday, a new Rasmussen poll in the critical swing state of Ohio showed Republican challenger Mitt Romney gaining ground with a 2-point lead over President Obama, 50 percent to 48 percent.
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This is the first major poll to come out of the state in nearly three weeks that shows Romney in the lead, and it contradicts the findings of two other polls out Sunday.
A Gravis poll in Ohio has Obama up by a point over Romney, 50 percent to 49 percent.
And a Public Policy Polling survey in the state gives Obama a 4-point lead, 51 percent to 47 percent.
Overall, Obama has had a small but consistent lead in Ohio for most of the campaign. If the Rasmussen poll is the start of a shift in Romney's direction, it will reverse the trend in the state, which has slowly been moving toward Obama in recent days.
In another big swing state, Obama is unexpectedly up.
A Public Policy Polling survey in Florida shows the president ahead by a point, 49 percent to 48 percent.
In the same way as Romney's winning poll in Ohio is an outlier, this new Florida poll bucks the recent trend.
Only two other polls in the last three weeks show Obama leading in Florida.
While a resurgence for Romney in Ohio would greatly increase his chances of taking the Electoral College, he can't afford to lose Florida. Its 29 electoral votes are crucial to get him within striking distance of the 270 votes required to win the White House.
Even if Romney holds on to Florida, he'll need to make a strong showing in Ohio as well.
No Republican has ever won the White House without winning Ohio, and Romney's chances to do just that look bleak in light of the latest polls in the swing states.
Obama leads in Nevada, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
The candidates are tied in Virginia and Colorado, and Romney leads in North Carolina, Florida and New Hampshire.
While North Carolina looks like a sure thing for Romney, New Hampshire can still go either way.
A sweep of the five most ambivalent swing states seems unlikely for Romney, but that's exactly what he'd need to do if he can't win Ohio. He may have a chance to catch up while the president is busy with the hurricane response this week.
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