Florida voters awoke Sunday to headlines in the Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times that a new poll shows the race for the state's 29 electoral votes is too close to call. But in Ohio, readers of newspapers across the state saw headlines Sunday claiming President Obama holds a 5-point lead over Mitt Romney in the Buckeye State.
Meanwhile, an Omaha World-Herald poll also published on Sunday shows the two candidates tied in Nebraska's 2nd Congressional District. Maine and Nebraska award electoral votes by congressional district, and Obama won the 2nd District in 2008; it has been slightly reconfigured during the decennial redistricting process and is now considered marginally more Republican.
Taken together, the new polls signal the start of another week showing Obama with a significant, if tenuous, Electoral College advantage in his quest for a second term.
In Florida, a new Mason-Dixon poll of 625 likely voters, conducted Sept. 17-19, shows Obama leading Romney, 48 percent to 47 percent, well within the poll's margin of error of plus-or-minus 4 percentage points. The Libertarian ticket led by former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson claims 1 percent of the vote, and 4 percent are undecided. The poll was conducted for the Miami Herald, Tampa Bay Times, the Spanish-language Miami-based El Nuevo Herald and two in-state cable-news television stations, Bay News 9 and Central Florida News 13.
Obama leads Romney among independent voters, 51 percent to 40 percent, the poll shows. Obama won independents in 2008, 52 percent to 45 percent, according to exit polls.
Romney, however, has a slight edge among Florida seniors, leads by 6 points among those aged 65 and older, 51 percent to 45 percent -- close to Sen. John McCain's margin among seniors in 2008, 53 percent to 45 percent.
In Ohio, Obama leads Romney, 51 percent to 46 percent, with 3 percent undecided or preferring another candidate. The poll was conducted by the University of Cincinnati for a consortium of the state's largest newspapers, including the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Cincinnati Enquirer and the Columbus Dispatch.
Asked which candidate would do the best job of improving economic conditions in the state, Ohio voters prefer Obama by the same 5-point margin, 49 percent to 44 percent -- an indication that Obama's aggressive ad campaign in the state is reaping dividends. A majority of voters viewed the federal auto-industry bailout favorably, the newspapers reported.
The Ohio Newspaper poll was conducted Sept. 13-18, surveying 861 likely voters. The margin of error is plus-or-minus 3.3 percentage points.
In Nebraska, a poll conducted by the Omaha-based firm Wiese Research Associates shows Obama and Romney tied at 44 percent apiece in the state's 2nd Congressional District. Romney leads by 11 points statewide, the poll shows, and is a heavy favorite to win the state's other four electoral votes.
The Nebraska poll surveyed 800 registered voters statewide from Sept. 17-20, for a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3.5 percentage points. The margin of error is higher for subgroups, including within each of the state's three congressional districts.