The survey by Quinnipiac University, CBS News and The New York Times suggests Obama is leading his Republican rival in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The Obama-versus-Romney breakdown is 51 per cent to 45 per cent in Florida, 50-44 in Ohio and 53-42 in Pennsylvania.
The majority of voters in all three states said they found Obama more likeable. And when asked about the president's economic policies, a majority of likely voters said either that they "are improving the economy now" or will improve the economy if given more time to work.
All three states are considered up for grabs in November's presidential election, and victory in critical battleground states helps propel candidates to the White House.
"If today were Nov. 6, President Barack Obama would sweep the key swing states of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania and — if history is any guide — into a second term in the Oval Office," Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in a statement.
Brown pointed to improving unemployment numbers in Ohio and Florida as playing a role in Obama's strong showing in those states, noting that "the president is running better in the key swing states than he is nationally."
Conservative critics of the poll have pointed out that more Democrats than Republicans were surveyed, likely skewing the results.
Indeed, the Rasmussen Reports daily presidential tracking poll had Romney ahead of the president nationally on Wednesday, attracting 47 per cent of the vote compared with Obama's 44 per cent. Real Clear Politics' average of national polls conducted from July 9 to July 31, on the other hand, shows Obama with 47 per cent compared to Romney's 45 per cent.
Almost all polling suggests Obama is well ahead of Romney among women voters, minorities and those under 40, while Romney is backed strongly by working class white people and those over 40.
Another poll released Wednesday by Hofstra University contained more good news for Team Obama — while the president trails Romney among suburban independents, he's starting to gain some ground.
In November 2011, Romney led Obama 48 per cent to 40 per cent among that demographic. The president has since narrowed the gap to 45 per cent for Romney to 41 per cent for Obama.
In the Quinnipiac poll, voters in all three swing states said they favoured Obama's plan to raise taxes on those earning more than $250,000 a year by wide margins.
Obama hammered away at Romney's tax policies in a campaign stop Wednesday in Ohio, saying his rival's proposals serve to benefit the wealthy at the expense of the middle class as he cited a report from the non-partisan Tax Policy Center.
"The centrepiece of my opponent's entire economic plan is a new, US$5 trillion tax cut," he said.
"A lot of this tax cut would go to the wealthiest one per cent of all households. Folks making more than $3 million a year — the top one-tenth of one per cent — would get a tax cut worth almost a quarter of a million dollars.... Under my opponent's plan, guess who gets the bill for these $250,000 tax cuts? You do."
The Tax Policy Center's study concluded that a plan similar to Romney's "would provide large tax cuts to high-income households, and increase the tax burdens on middle- and/or lower-income taxpayers."
Obama accused Romney of focusing on tax cuts for the wealthy over reducing the deficit or investing in infrastructure.
"He's asking you to pay more so that people like him can get a tax cut."
The Romney campaign fired back at the president in a statement.
"President Obama continues to tout liberal studies calling for more tax hikes and more government spending," a Romney spokesman said.
"We've been down that road before — and it's led us to 41 straight months of unemployment above eight per cent .... Mitt Romney believes that lower tax rates and less government will jump-start the economy and create jobs."
News of Obama's apparent momentum in critical battleground states comes as the Romney campaign plans a high-profile swing through several of those states leading up to the Republican National Convention in Tampa later this month.
Back from his gaffe-ridden overseas trip, Romney is reportedly mapping out his schedule for the coming weeks. He's slated to make stops in Colorado, Nevada and Indiana this week, and will visit Ohio next week.
On Aug. 10, Romney's campaign says, the candidate will begin a glitzy four-day bus tour that will take him to some of the biggest cities in several key swing states, including Florida and Virginia.
Speculation is rampant that he'll announce his running mate during the bus tour. His campaign says he'll be accompanied by several big-name Republicans.Suggest a correction