Romney takes nosedive in swing states but could bounce back

Updated: 2012-09-27 10:58


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Romney takes nosedive in swing states but could bounce back
Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign rally in Toledo, Ohio September 26, 2012.[Agencies] 

WASHINGTON -- US presidential candidate Mitt Romney is taking a pounding in key battleground states of Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida, but the upcoming debates could provide the Republican challenger a chance to bounce back.

US President Barack Obama steamrolled over Romney in a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday that showed he was ahead 53 percent to 44 percent in Florida; 53 percent to 43 percent in Ohio; and 54 percent to 42 percent in Pennsylvania.

"It certainly can change," Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, told a press briefing Wednesday. "We've still got 41 days to go (before the election)."

Indeed, much of Romney's loss stemmed from the media fury that erupted after his remark that 47 percent of US households do not pay income tax, which was taken to mean that those individuals were an afterthought in Romney's campaign, angering constituents.

"Romney had a bad week in the media and it shows in these key swing states," Brown said. "The furor over his 47 percent remark almost certainly is a major factor in the roughly double-digit leads President Barack Obama has in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania."

But those sentiments may evaporate once the first of three debates begins next week. Romney's task will be to erase those negative images from voters' consciousness and present himself as a more capable candidate than Obama.

"The debates may be Romney's best chance to reverse the trend in his favor," Brown said.

Another reason for Romney's nosedive is the recent Democratic and Republican conventions. Despite being scripted events, Democrats were able to depict Obama in a positive light while the GOP efforts to boost Romney's image fell flat.

While Obama has a 4-point lead nationwide, according to Wednesday's Real Clear Politics poll average, a constant stream of political TV ads in the key battleground states accounts for the disparity.

"You can't turn on your television in places like Ohio, Florida...without seeing political ads. And that has been the case since spring," Brown said, adding that such ads are not as prevalent in other states.

Likely voters in the three states polled said the president can better handle the economy, by far the top issue on voters' minds in the run-up to November 6 election day.

The president's approval rating, at nearly 50 percent according to Real Clear Politics poll averages, is relatively high amid an economy that has been struggling for a few years now to recover the worst economic downturn in decades. Experts attribute that to his personal likability.