Poll: Obama Gains Ground in Swing States

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Amid the mounting financial crisis and growing worries about the economy, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama is making gains in the key swing states of Colorado, Michigan and Pennsylvania, while his Republican rival John McCain is holding his own in Montana and West Virginia, according to a new TIME/CNN poll, conducted by Opinion Research Corp.

In Colorado, where the Democrats held their convention, Obama now enjoys the support of registered voters by a 51% to 45% margin; in late August McCain led that group by a difference of 49% to 44%. Among likely voters in the state, which TIME/CNN polled for the first time as part of this series of battleground polls, Obama leads by 51% to 47%.

In Michigan, the gap between McCain supporters and Obama supporters has also widened since the TIME/CNN poll in early September. Obama has gained two points among registered voters, now garnering 51% to McCain's 44%. As for likely voters, Obama leads by 51% to 46%.

Pennsylvania, Montana and West Virginia all show results that largely reflect their red-blue leanings of the 2004 election. Obama has expanded his late August four-point lead in Pennsylvania up to 52% to 43% among registered voters. He also currently leads among likely voters in the Keystone State by a healthy nine point margin, 53% to 44%.

McCain maintains a steady lead in Montana and West Virginia, states that George W. Bush easily won in the 2004 election (and which TIME/CNN had not previously polled). The new poll of likely voters puts McCain at 54% to 43% in Montana — where Obama had once hoped of scoring an upset — and by 50% to 46% in West Virginia.

Likely independent voters are proving key in Michigan, where they choose McCain by just 48% to 47%. Independents in West Virginia are leaning toward McCain 2-to-1, but Obama has them by anywhere from six to 13 points in Colorado, Pennsylvania and Montana. In all five states, Obama holds a significant advantage over McCain with likely self-identified moderate voters.

McCain proves popular with white voters across the board, consistent with the early September findings. He is especially popular among white men, although Obama holds a seven point lead among all men in Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, the new poll suggests that the appeal of McCain's running mate Sarah Palin may not be as much of a game changer as some believed a month ago. Obama has a double-digit lead among women in Colorado, Michigan and Pennsylvania, while he ties with McCain in Montana, and is ahead only 3 points in West Virginia.

All interviews were conducted by landline telephone between Sept. 21 and Sept. 23. In Colorado, 932 registered voters and 794 likely voters were surveyed, 966 registered voters and 755 likely voters in Michigan, 903 registered voters and 737 likely voters in Montana, 920 registered voters and 730 likely voters in Pennsylvania, and 876 registered voters and 694 likely voters in West Virginia. The margin of error for "likely voters" in all states was 3.5% plus or minus. The margin of error for the sample of "registered voters" was 3% plus or minus, except in the case of Montana and West Virginia, which were 3.5% plus or minus.

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