The narrowing of the race in competitive states, according to the poll of likely voters in three swing states released yesterday, mirrors a national trend in which several recent polls show the race tied or one candidate ahead by a single percentage point.
A CBS Times/New York Times/Quinnipiac University survey gave Mr Obama a 50 per cent to 45 per cent edge in Ohio, a state without which a Republican has never won the White House. Mr Obama had led by six to 10 points in earlier polls. In Florida, the president had a one-point advantage, 48 per cent to 47 per cent, after leading by nine points a month earlier. His 49 per cent to 47 per cent edge in Virginia is less than half of the five-point spread found in a poll earlier this month.
"After being subjected to what seems like a zillion dollars' worth of television ads and personal attention from the two candidates reminiscent of a high-school crush, the key swing states of Florida and Virginia are too close to call with the election only days away," said Peter A Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac Polling Institute in Hamden, Connecticut.
The states are among the battlegrounds that political observers of both parties say will decide which candidate wins the presidency.
Mr Romney's surge in the polls tracks an increase in the percentage of voters who have a favourable opinion of the former Massachusetts governor. He is in positive territory for the first time in Florida, with 48 per cent viewing him favourably. In Virginia, he has a 49 per cent favourable rating and a 46 per cent unfavourable one, his biggest positive spread to date. Only in Ohio does a plurality still view him unfavourably.
Mr Obama held a 49 per cent to 48 per cent advantage on the economy in Ohio, where one in eight jobs is connected to the automotive industry. Mr Obama backed the use of government funds to rescue General Motors and Chrysler, while Mr Romney was proposing that they go through bankruptcy with private funding.
But Mr Romney's presidential campaign is challenging criticism from US carmakers over campaign adverts that claim General Motors and Chrysler are creating jobs in China at the expense of Ohio. The US vice president, Joe Biden, and Mr Obama's running mate, said yesterday that the advertising released by Mr Romney was "an outrageous lie" for asserting that automakers were creating jobs in China.
Mr Biden said in Florida that Mr Romney is "trying to scare the living devil" out of people who have been hurt by the loss of car jobs in the past.
* With additional reporting by the Associated Press