(CNN) - President Barack Obama holds a narrow advantage over Republican challenger Mitt Romney in three crucial battleground states, according to new polling.
NBC News/Marist surveys indicate Obama with identical 48%-44% advantages over Romney, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, among registered voters in Florida and Virginia. And the poll, released Thursday, indicates the president with a 48%-42% lead over Romney in Ohio.
According to the poll, majorities of voters in all three states say the worst of the economic downturn is behind us, rather than to come. That optimism may be benefitting Obama. But 40% or less say the economy will improve over the next year.
The NBC/Marist poll in Florida was released one day after a Quinnipiac University survey indicated Romney held a six-point (47%-41%) lead over Obama in the Sunshine State. And Quinnipiac's most recent polling in Ohio, released earlier this month, indicated the president at 45% and Romney at 44%, basically a dead heat.
Quinnipiac's most recent poll in Virginia, released at the beginning of the month, put Obama up seven points over Romney (51%-44%)
A combined 60 electoral votes are at stake in the three states.
The NBC News/Marist surveys also illustrate the gender gap seen in other national and state polling, with Romney up by single digits over Obama among men in Florida, Ohio and Virginia, while the president holds a double-digit lead over the former Massachusetts governor among women in all three states.
The NBC News/Marist polls were conducted May 17-20 by telephone. The Florida survey questioned 1,078 registered voters, with a sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points. The Ohio survey questioned 1,103 registered voters, also with a sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points. The Virginia poll questioned 1,076 registered voters, with the same sampling error.
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