ANAYLSIS: Mitt Romney's road to the White House just got steeper.
On the same day that the Republican presidential candidate will take part in his most intense 10-hour period of campaigning in the Buckeye State in months, a fresh New York Times-CBS News-Quinnipiac poll out this morning found President Obama's edge there growing.
In Ohio, Obama leads Romney, 53 percent to 43 percent -- that's up from the president's 50 percent to 44 percent lead in a previous poll on August 23. The findings also track with other public polling available in the state that shows Obama out in front.
The new number, however, do not jibe with the message coming from the Romney campaign. Yesterday the campaign's political director, Rich Beeson, told reporters: "There's still 42 days to go. We are by any stretch inside the margin of error in Ohio. And the Obama campaign is going to have some problems there."
And while a lot can change between now and Election Day, the weight of evidence is simply not on Romney's side.
This morning ABC News moved the state of Ohio and its 18 electoral votes from "Toss Up" territory to "Lean Obama." This puts the ABC Electoral College estimate at 255 for Obama to 206 for Romney. Without a drastic change in Ohio that means there are only seven battlegrounds left for Romney to capture in his quest for the presidency, including the state of Florida with its 29 electoral votes.
But today's New York Times-CBS News-Quinnipiac poll also forecasted a gloomy picture for Romney in the Sunshine State. There Obama leads Romney by a 9 point margin, 53 percent to 44 percent. That's also an improvement on the president's 49 percent to 46 percent margin over Romney in the same poll in late August.
"The polls, along with interviews with supporters and advisers in the nation's two largest battleground states, lay bare an increasingly urgent challenge facing Mr. Romney as he prepares for his next chance to move the race in his favor, at the first debate with Mr. Obama next week," The New York Times' Jeff Zeleny and Jim Rutenberg note. "Mr. Romney's burden is no longer to win over undecided voters, but also to woo back the voters who seem to be growing a little comfortable with the idea of a second term for Mr. Obama."