Obama widens lead six weeks ahead of election

Obama widens lead six weeks ahead of election

Obama widens lead six weeks ahead of election

US President Barack Obama (C) and first lady Michelle Obama (2nd R) take part in a taping of the ‘The View’ chat show at ABC’s studios in New York. REUTERS photo

U.S. President Barack Obama has widened his lead in the two main battleground states in the 2012 White House race as well as in Pennsylvania, according to a new opinion poll released yesterday.

The Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News poll put Obama ahead of Republican challenger Mitt Romney 53 percent to 44 percent in Florida, 53 percent to 43 percent in Ohio and 54 percent to 42 percent in Pennsylvania, less than six weeks ahead of the Nov. 6 vote. Florida has the most electoral votes of any of the so-called swing states expected to decide the election, and no Republican has ever become president without winning Ohio. Obama’s favorability rating in all three states was a comfortable 54 percent, while Romney’s was 41 percent. Even worse for Romney, the poll found that more than 90 percent of voters in all three states had made up their minds, leaving a dwindling number of independents that could be swayed by more television ads or campaign events.

The survey was carried out Sept. 18 to 24, in the aftermath of what was arguably the worst week of Romney’s quest for the White House. The candidate faced a barrage of criticism, including from fellow conservatives, after a hasty statement accusing Obama of sympathizing with Islamist protesters hours after the U.S. ambassador to Libya was killed.A video surfaced days later showing Romney giving a speech to wealthy donors in which he said 47 percent of Americans were freeloaders who would vote for Obama in order to keep getting government handouts. However, Romney will have a chance to stage a comeback next month when the candidates hold a series of televised debates. The sluggish U.S. economy or turmoil in the Middle East could yet weigh down on Obama’s re-election bid.
‘China: currency manipulator’

The candidates meanwhile exchanged attacks Sept. 25 over trade policies with China, an issue for working-class voters whose livelihoods have been affected by competition from Chinese manufacturers.

“When people cheat, that kills jobs,” Romney said at an Ohio rally. “China has cheated. I will not allow that to continue.” In a statement, Obama campaign spokeswoman Ben LaBolt criticized Romney’s own investments in Chinese companies. “How can we trust Mitt Romney to stand up to China when he profits from China breaking the rules?” he said in a statement.

The Obama administration filed a complaint this month with the World Trade Organization over Chinese subsidies to its auto and auto parts industries, the latest in a series of actions dating back to 2009 to protest what U.S. manufacturers say are the unfair advantages China gives its own companies.

Romney has vowed to issue an executive order in his first day in office labeling China a currency manipulator, a designation that would trigger negotiations between the two countries and could ultimately lead to U.S. trade sanctions against China. The Obama administration has not been willing to take that step, which is opposed by the influential, non-governmental U.S. Chamber of Commerce.