Barack Obama is surging in the battleground state polls. (Photo: Getty Images)
Barack Obama's lead widened over Republican rival John McCain in key swing states, including Florida, Ohio, Nevada and Pennsylvania, propelled by his debate performance and the worsening economy, two polls showed.
The Democratic presidential nominee gained ground in seven battleground states and leads in six, according to two surveys conducted after he and McCain debated on Sept. 26 and as Congress haggled over a $700 billion plan to rescue financial markets.
The economy is the biggest drag on McCain in Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio, the three states surveyed by Quinnipiac University and the biggest electoral prizes in the group, according to Peter Brown, the assistant director for the poll.
``The economic crisis has changed the dynamic that only three weeks ago favored McCain,'' he said. ``It doesn't mean that McCain can't win. It just means that history says he has a steep uphill climb'' to turn the race around so close to Election Day on Nov. 4.
Obama, an Illinois senator, took the lead from McCain in Virginia, is ahead in Florida, widened his margin in Nevada, and drew to a tie in Missouri, according to a poll by CNN/Time. All four states were won by Republican George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004. The Time/CNN poll also showed Obama ahead in Minnesota, which went to the Democratic candidate in the last two presidential elections.
Together, the seven states have 107 of the 270 Electoral College votes needed to claim the White House.
The Quinnipiac surveys were conducted Sept. 27-29 and the Time/CNN polls Sept. 28-30, as Republican and Democratic lawmakers and the Bush administration labored to reach agreement on a package of measures to ease the tightening credit crisis. The House of Representatives rejected the proposal Sept. 29, triggering a 778-point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
A revised proposal is up for a vote in the Senate tonight and is likely to be considered in the House before the end of the week. Obama and McCain have joined with congressional leaders to urge lawmakers to approve the plan.
In Florida, Obama leads McCain among likely voters 51 percent to 43 percent in the Quinnipiac poll and 51 percent to 47 percent in the CNN/Time survey.
In Ohio, Quinnipiac found the Democrat was favored by 50 percent compared with 42 percent for McCain. Pennsylvanians backed Obama over McCain 54 percent to 39 percent.
Arizona Senator McCain also hasn't been helped by the fading popularity of his running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, 44, according to the Quinnipiac survey.
In Florida, Palin is viewed favorably by 36 percent of the voters and unfavorably by 39 percent. That reverses her 47 percent to 23 percent result in the Sept. 11 Quinnipiac poll.
Palin will have her first and only debate with Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden, a Delaware senator, tomorrow night. McCain and Obama next face off Oct. 7.
According to the CNN/Time poll, Obama leads McCain 54 percent to 43 percent in Minnesota, 51 percent to 47 percent in Nevada and 53 percent to 44 percent in Virginia. Obama's 1 percentage point edge in Missouri is well within the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
In each state Obama showed gains since a CNN/Time poll taken Aug. 31-Sept. 2.
Obama also leads among voters nationally in five polls released in the past two days. A Gallup Inc. daily tracking poll found the Democrat ahead with 48 percent support compared with 44 percent for McCain. That's the same margin found in a Sept. 27-29 poll conducted for the Washington Post/ABC News. A Pew Research Center survey released today showed Obama ahead 49 percent to 43 percent among likely voters.