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Obama, Romney virtually tied in convention states

New polling Monday by CNN/Time/ORC reinforced the tightness of the presidential race in Florida and North Carolina, the swing states hosting national party conventions this week and next.

In Florida, site of this week’s Republican National Convention, President Obama leads GOP challenger Mitt Romney, 50 percent to 46 percent. In North Carolina, where Democrats will convene next week, Romney has a 48-47 edge on Obama.

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Each candidate’s slim lead was within the poll’s margin of error, meaning Obama and Romney are in virtual dead heats.

Both states are divided, CNN Polling Director Keating Holland told the network’s PoliticalTicker blog.

“President Obama has a huge lead in the Democratic strongholds near Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach,” Holland said. “Mitt Romney has almost as big a lead in the northern part of the state. The two men are currently battling to a draw in the I-4 corridor, where most Florida elections are won or lost.”

“In North Carolina, it’s an east-west split, rather than the north-south division we see in Florida,” Holland added. “Obama’s strength east of I-95 and in the Research Triangle area roughly matches the advantage Romney has in the central and western parts of the state.”

The result in Florida is consistent with that of a New York Times/CBS News/Quinnipiac University poll published last Thursday, which showed Obama leading Romney, 49 percent to 46 percent.

Obama’s reelection campaign has sought to use a planned overhaul of Medicare by Romney and running mate Paul Ryan against the Republican ticket in the Sunshine State, which has a high population of senior citizens. But the Times poll found Romney remains popular among Florida seniors, leading the president, 55 percent to 42 percent.

The virtual tie in North Carolina is more surprising. Obama eked out a narrow victory in the state four years ago, but a Republican has won North Carolina in every other presidential election since 1980. CNN’s electoral map lists North Carolina as “leaning Romney” but lists Florida as a “toss-up.”

In May, Obama publicly endorsed legal same-sex marriage only a day after North Carolina voters overwhelmingly approved a ban on gay marriage in a referendum -- a move that appeared to make harder his effort to win the state again.

But the Obama campaign beefed up its staff in the Tar Heel State and remains within striking distance there, the CNN poll indicated.

Callum Borchers can be reached at callum.borchers@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @callumborchers.
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