President Obama is underwater in key swing states, and faces electoral peril in November from both Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, according to new polls released early Thursday by Quinnipiac University, which show Gingrich surging among Republicans in three important battlegrounds,
Gingrich, the former speaker of the House, leads the GOP field in each of the states -- Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania -- by double-digit margins. But perhaps more importantly, his ascent has not been confined to the Republican primary: Gingrich now runs only slightly worse against Obama than Romney, the former Massachusetts governor.
In Florida, which will hold its potentially-pivotal primary on Jan. 31, Gingrich leads Romney, 35 percent to 22 percent, with Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, and businessman Herman Cain, who suspended his campaign on Dec. 3, each at 8 percent. When Republicans are asked to choose between only Gingrich and Romney, the former speaker leads by a wider margin, 52 percent to 34 percent.
Gingrich's 13-point lead against the full field is less than his 23-point advantage in a CNN/Time/ORC International poll released Wednesday. The CNN/Time/ORC poll was conducted among likely primary voters, while Quinnipiac surveyed all registered Republicans.
In the race for Florida's 29 electoral votes in the general election, Gingrich runs slightly worse among all registered voters than Romney: Romney leads Obama, 45 percent to 42 percent, while Gingrich trails him, 46 percent to 44 percent. Gingrich leads Obama among independent voters by a four-point margin, less than Romney's 10-point advantage among that group.
Obama is clearly vulnerable in the state: Just 41 percent of voters approve of the way he is handling his job as president, while 54 percent disapprove. A third of independents approve of his job performance, compared to 57 percent who disapprove. And among white voters, only 30 percent approve of Obama, while a whopping 66 percent disapprove.
Ohio's presidential primary is currently slated for June -- though it may yet be moved to March. Gingrich leads Romney, 36 percent to 18 percent in the matchup with the full field, an advantage that grows to 27 points in a head-to-head contest.
Obama is increasingly unpopular in the Buckeye State compared to a month ago. Just 41 percent of voters approve of Obama's job performance, while 55 percent disapprove. His approval rating is three points lower than last month, and the percentage who disapprove has increased by five percent.
Among independent voters, just 38 percent approve of Obama, compared to 57 percent who disapprove.
As a result, both Gingrich and Romney pose significant threats to Obama in the race for Ohio's 18 electoral votes. Gingrich and Romney both run neck-and-neck with Obama, leading him by identical, hair's-breadth margins, 43 percent to 42 percent.
Gingrich also leads Romney in Pennsylvania, 31 percent to 17 percent, with former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., at 9 percent. In a head-to-head matchup, Gingrich blows out Romney, 50 percent to 31 percent.
Obama runs slightly stronger in Pennsylvania than in the other two swing states. He leads Romney, 46 percent to 43 percent, up from a one-point edge last month.
Against Gingrich, Obama leads by a wider margin, 48 percent to 40 percent. Last month, Gingrich trailed Obama by 10 points.
Still, Obama remains extremely vulnerable in the race for the Keystone State's 20 electoral votes: A 52-percent majority of voters disapprove of the job he is doing as president, while just 43 percent approve.
The Quinnipiac polls were conducted Nov. 28-Dec. 5 and included Cain, despite the suspension of his campaign. In Florida, 1,226 registered voters were surveyed, for a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percent. There were 509 Republicans, for a margin of error of +/- 4.3 percent.
In Ohio, 1,437 voters were surveyed, for a margin of error of +/- 2.6 percent. That included 500 Republicans, with a margin of error of +/- 4.4 percent.
The Pennsylvania poll surveyed 1,453 registered voters, for a margin of error of +/- 2.6 percent. The subsample of 578 Republicans carries a margin of error of +/- 4.1 percent.
WATCH Newt Gingrich discusses a recent Romney ad and shows off his Dancing Queen ringtone:
Gingrich's Dancing Queen Ring Tone
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