A new Quinnipiac poll shows that President Obama is now trailing both Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney among independents in the crucial swing states of Florida and Ohio. The poll shows that, among independents, Gingrich leads Obama by 4 percentage points (45 to 41 percent) in Florida and by 1 percentage point (39 to 38 percent) in Ohio, while Romney leads Obama by 10 points (46 to 36 percent) in Florida and 4 points (41 to 37 percent) in Ohio. Romney also leads Obama among independents in Pennsylvania (42 to 38 percent) — a nearly must-win state for any Democratic nominee — while Obama leads Gingrich there (44 to 36 percent).

Quinnipiac’s Peter Brown observes, “Gingrich’s surge in the GOP race is accompanied by a better showing among independent voters in a general election race against President Obama, although he still has a ways to go.” In Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, Brown says, “Romney runs only slightly better against Obama, diluting his claim that he has the best chance to win.” Brown adds, “The media says the White House wants to run against Gingrich because he will be easier to beat than Romney, but the data is less clear today than it was last month on that point.”

In the race for the GOP nomination, Quinnipiac shows that Gingrich now leads Romney by double-digits among registered Republican voters in all three states — by 13 points in Florida (35 to 22 percent), 18 points in Ohio (36 to 18 percent), and 14 points in Pennsylvania (31 to 17 percent) — and by even wider margins in potential head-to-head matchups in all three states.

Perhaps most disconcertingly for Romney — whose strongest issue is generally viewed to be the economy — when asked which candidate they think “would do the best job handling the economy,” registered Republican voters in all three states gave the edge to Gingrich, by 2 points in Florida (31 to 29 percent), 7 points in Ohio (31 to 24 percent), and 8 points in Pennsylvania (30 to 22 percent).

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