By Marc Kovac
President Barack Obama has a five-point lead in Ohio over Republican Mitt Romney, though the latter has closed the gap over the past month.
That’s according to a new poll from the Connecticut-based Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, which regularly gauges Ohioans’ views on candidates and issues.
In a survey of 1,548 likely voters conducted over the past week, 50 percent of respondents said they were backing the president, versus 45 percent who favor the former Massachusetts governor.
The results have a margin of error of 2.5 percent.
Obama led Romney, 53 percent to 43 percent, in the last Quinnipiac poll, conducted in late September.
And 4 percent of respondents said they might change their mind before Election Day.
“The good news for Gov. Romney is that he has sliced President Obama’s lead in Ohio in half in the last month,” Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the polling institute, said in a released statement. “The bad news for Romney, and the good news for Obama, is that no Republican has ever won the White House without carrying Ohio, and the challenger is running out of time to make up the remaining difference.”
The same poll put Democratic incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown ahead of Republican challenger Josh Mandel, 51 percent to 42 percent, slightly changed from 50 percent to 40 percent last month.
Ohio’s economic climate likely is driving the results. According to Quinnipiac, 46 percent of likely voters in Ohio believe the state’s economy is improving, compared with 22 percent who said the opposite. That compares to a nearly even split on respondents views on the same question for the national economy.
“It’s more difficult for Romney to come into Ohio and say the economy is doing poorly and it’s Obama’s fault when voters there think things are getting better by more than two-to-one,” Brown said. “When things are going well, voters tend to support incumbents just as they punish them in bad times, as is happening in much of the country which is struggling economically.”