(CNN) – Democrats hold the edge in three races for U.S. Senate, according to polls released Wednesday of likely voters in Ohio, Florida and Virginia.
Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida leads his GOP rival Rep. Connie Mack among likely voters, 52%-39%, according to the CBS News/New York Times/Quinnipiac poll. In Ohio, Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown is ahead of the Republican State Treasurer Josh Mandel, 51%-42%. And in a close race in Virginia, former Gov. Tim Kaine, the Democrat, holds a four point edge (50%-46%) over Republican competitor George Allen, another former governor who served in the U.S. Senate from 2001-2007.
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The result in Virginia was within the poll's sampling error, but the margins in the other two races were outside the sampling error.
The race between Kaine and Allen, while always relatively close, had showed signs of opening up for the Democrat in the past few months, though Wednesday's poll showed the battle between the two former governors was again a close battle.
"Virginia's U.S. Senate race, which opened up a little in recent months is once again getting close, with Democrat Tim Kaine holding on to a small lead. One reason: Although George Allen is carrying independents handily, he enjoys about 10-points lower support among Republicans than Kaine does among Democrats," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
While the polls showed Democratic Senate candidates holding leads in Florida and Ohio, presidential surveys in the same states showed a much tighter race between President Barack Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney. The battle for the White House was similarly close in Virginia. All three states are important battlegrounds in the November 6 election, and carry a combined 60 electoral votes.
Republican governors in Virginia (Gov. Bob McDonnell) and Ohio (Gov. John Kasich) both enjoy approval ratings of 49%, but Florida's GOP Gov. Rick Scott has a disapproval rating of 45% (compared to 39% who approve of the job Scott is doing.)
The reason for that could be each state's unemployment rate – Virginia and Ohio both have rates below the national jobless rate, while in Florida the unemployment rate is nearly a point higher than the nationwide 7.8% rate.
The CBS News/New York Times/Quinnipiac surveys were conducted by telephone October 23-28. In Florida, 1,073 likely voters were surveyed and the sampling error was plus or minus 3 percentage points. 1,110 likely Ohio voters were polled with a sampling error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points, and 1,074 likely Virginia voters were polled with a sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.