Mitt Romney is tied with a struggling President Obama in three key battleground states -- Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania -- but the former Massachusetts governor is struggling to coalesce the support of his own party in the Republican primary, according to the first batch of Quinnipiac University "Swing State" polls released early Thursday.
Obama is underwater in each of the three states; his approval rating in Florida is just 41 percent, and his 44-percent approval ratings in Ohio and Pennsylvania are also dangerously low.
Just 43 percent of Florida voters feel that Obama deserves to be reelected, while 51 percent do not. Slight pluralities in Ohio and Pennsylvania feel that obama does not deserve to be reelected.
Romney is the strongest GOP candidate in a general election, according to the polls, but Cain leads -- or ties -- Romney in the primary in all three states. One caveat: The polls were conducted Oct. 31-Nov. 7 -- beginning after allegations that Cain sexually harrassed multiple women came to light -- but they may not fully reflect the impacts of the increasingly specific accusations against him and the identification of some of his accusers.
That said, Cain remains strong in GOP primary matchups:
• In Florida, Cain leads with 27 percent, compared to 21 percent for Romney and 17 percent for Gingrich.
• In Ohio, Cain leads Romney, 25 percent to 20 percent, with Gingrich at 11 percent.
• And in Pennsylvania, Cain and Romney are tied with 17 percent each. Gingrich and former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., are tied for third with 13 percent each.
Notably, Texas Gov. Rick Perry earns just 5 percent in Florida and Pennsylvania, and 4 percent in Ohio. The poll was conducted before Perry's gaffe in Wednesday night's debate.
Meanwhile, the general election numbers show Romney outperforming the other Republican candidates:
• Romney leads Obama in Florida, 45 percent to 42 percent, but he trails in Ohio, 45 percent to 42 percent, and Pennsylvania, 44 percent to 43 percent. The difference between Obama and Romney is within the respective margin of error in each of the three states.
• Obama leads embattled businessman Herman Cain in all three states: in Florida, 45 percent to 41 percent, and in Ohio and Pennsylvania, 48 percent to 38 percent.
• Obama also leads Gingrich in all three states, though Gingrich comes within the margin of error in Florida, trailing the president, 45 percent to 42 percent. Obama leads Gingrich by 12 points in Ohio, 49 percent to 37 percent, and by 10 points in Pennsylvania, 48 percent to 38 percent.
• Against Perry, Obama leads in all three states: in Florida, 46 percent to 40 percent; Ohio, 48 percent to 36 percent; and Pennsylvania, 47 percent to 38 percent.
The Florida poll surveyed 1,185 registered voters (margin of error +/- 2.9 percent), including 513 Republicans (margin of error +/- 4.3 percent). The Ohio poll surveyed 1,312 registered voters (margin of error +/- 2.7 percent), including 443 Republicans (margin of error +/- 4.7 percent). The Pennsylvania poll surveyed 1,436 registered voters (margin of error +/- 2.6 percent), including 579 Republicans (margin of error +/- 4.1 percent).