Obama takes poll lead in key states

New polls suggest Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama is picking up steam in three key states, possibly building momentum as the campaign heads into its final five weeks.

The Democrat now has 50 percent or more in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida — three states that history has shown can make a difference in a Presidential election year.

The bump in the polls comes as Republican John McCain’s campaign is floundering after recent missteps by the GOP nominee in the financial crisis gripping the country and gaffes by his running mate.

Reports Liz Sidoti of The Associated Press:

Recently trailing or tied, Democrat Barack Obama now leads Republican John McCain in a trio of the most critical, vote-rich states five weeks before the election, according to presidential poll results released Wednesday.

The Democrat’s support jumped to 50 percent or above in Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania in Quinnipiac University surveys taken during the weekend — after the opening presidential debate and during Monday’s dramatic stock market plunge as the House rejected a $700 billion financial bailout plan.

Combined, these states offer 68 of the 270 electoral votes needed for victory on Election Day, Nov. 4.

Pollsters attributed Obama’s improved standing to the public’s general approval of his debate performance, antipathy toward GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin and heightened confidence in the Illinois senator’s ability to handle the economic crisis.

The fresh polling is the latest troublesome turn for McCain, the Arizona senator who is trying to regain control of the campaign conversation amid increasingly difficult circumstances for Republicans. It comes on the eve of a debate between Palin and her Democratic counterpart, Joe Biden, and as the financial crisis shapes the presidential race in unpredictable ways.

For now and probably for the next month, the race will be entirely about who can best handle an economy in peril.

The war in Iraq, national security and foreign policy issues — McCain’s strengths — have largely fallen by the wayside as each campaign tries to chart a course to the presidency in extraordinarily choppy economic waters.