For a campaign struggling against the inexorable tide of numbers, some new poll numbers out today could provide a lifeline.
Quinnipiac University surveys of key fall swing states shows Hillary Clinton with sizable leads over Republican John McCain in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, while Barack Obama, who is on the verge of clinching the Democratic nomination, trails McCain in two of the three.
In Florida, Clinton is ahead of McCain 48 percent to 41 percent, while McCain leads Obama 45 percent to 41 percent, according to the survey.
In Ohio, Clinton also leads McCain 48 percent to 41 percent, while McCain edges Obama 44 percent to 40 percent.
In Pennsylvania, Clinton has a 50 percent to 37 percent lead over McCain, while Obama also leads McCain 46 percent to 40 percent.
The new polls found that 26 percent to 36 percent of Clinton supporters in the three states say they would defect to McCain if Obama is the nominee.
"The numbers for Florida and Ohio are good news for Sen. John McCain and should be worrisome for Sen. Barack Obama. That is especially true about Ohio, which decided the 2004 election. Ohio's economy is worse than the rest of the country and the Republican brand there is in disrepute. McCain's Buckeye lead may be a sign that nationally this may not be the easy Democratic walk to the White House that many expected," Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in a statement.
The surveys, conducted May 13-20, have a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points in Florida, 2.8 points in Ohio, and 2.4 points in Pennsylvania.
Clinton handily won the primaries in each state, though the Florida contest is disputed and neither candidate campaigned. She has been strenuously arguing to superdelegates that she would be the stronger nominee, in part because she would win the key swing states. A Democrat likely needs to win at least two of the three to win in November. Of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House, Florida has 27, Ohio has 20, and Pennsylvania has 21.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.