The poll does show a slightly closer race among high-enthusiasm voters, with Obama leading by 3 points, 50 percent to 47 percent. Obama leads by 4 points among those voters who strongly support their candidate, 52 percent to 48 percent.
Romney remains unpopular among likely voters in Ohio. Just 44 percent have a favorable opinion of Romney, compared to 50 percent who view him unfavorably. Romney holds a net-positive favorable rating in the other two states surveyed by Marist.
Obama maintains his edge on the economy in Ohio, the poll shows, with 49 percent saying they think he would do the better job, compared to 45 percent who pick Romney.
While the polls diverge in Virginia, neither survey represents a significant change from the respective pollster's previous look at the race. In the NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll conducted right before the debate, Obama led Romney, 48 percent to 46 percent, making the new poll a net gain of 3 points for Romney. In last month's CBS News/New York Times/Quinnipiac University poll, Obama led, 50 percent to 46 percent, making that a net gain of 1 point for Obama.
The differences between the two polls stem from diversions in the results among independent voters. The NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll shows Romney carrying independents, 50 percent to 42 percent. But the CBS News/New York Times/Quinnipiac University poll shows the two candidates neck-and-neck, with Obama leading, 48 percent to 46 percent.
The polls diverge in other ways. Romney leads by 15 points among men in the Marist poll, and by 7 in the Quinnipiac poll.
But among other groups, the polls are largely in sync. Women tilt toward Obama by 12 points in the Marist poll and by 16 points in the Quinnipiac poll. The Marist poll shows Romney leading among white voters by 25 points, while he leads by 21 in the Quinnipiac poll.
The polls also show similar results on the question of which candidate would do a better job handling the economy: Romney leads 48 percent to 45 percent in the Marist poll, while Obama ticks up in the Quinnipiac poll to tie Romney at 48 percent.
Obama's 3-point lead in the CBS News/New York Times/Quinnipiac University poll in Wisconsin represents a slight decline from the 6-point edge he enjoyed in mid-September, while more closely resembling the 2-point advantage he sported in August, prior to the two parties' conventions.
The new poll shows each candidate winning more than 90 percent of their own partisans, while independent voters are split--48 percent for Romney, and 46 percent for Obama.
Men back Romney, 51 percent to 46 percent, but women choose Obama, 53 percent to 43 percent.
The candidates run virtually even on the question of who would do a better job handling the economy; 49 percent think Romney would do a better job, compared to 47 percent who think Obama would. That is a slight turnaround from mid-September, when 49 percent thought Obama would be better and 46 percent chose Romney.
Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., enters Thursday's vice presidential debate relatively well-liked by voters in his home state. Forty-six percent of likely voters view him favorably, while 35 percent have an unfavorable opinion of Ryan. This is a slight improvement from his ratings in mid-September, when 43 percent viewed him favorably and 38 percent viewed him unfavorably.
More than four-in-five Wisconsin voters say they plan to watch the debate, and Ryan goes in as a strong favorite. Nearly half, 49 percent, think the native son of the Badger State will win the debate, compared to 32 percent who think Vice President Joe Biden will win.
The NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist polls were conducted Oct. 7-9. The polls include interviews with 988 likely voters in Florida, 994 in Ohio, and 981 in Virginia. The margin of error for each survey is plus-or-minus 3.1 percentage points.
The CBS News/New York Times/Quinnipiac University polls were conducted Oct. 4-9, surveying 1,254 likely voters in Colorado, 1,288 in Virginia, and 1,327 in Wisconsin. The margins of error are plus-or-minus 2.8 percentage points in Colorado, and 2.7 percentage points in both Virginia and Wisconsin.