New polling today validates the Obama campaign’s strategy of defining Mitt Romney early.  Yesterday, Ed argued, that Obama’s “negative” campaign isn’t working. Well, a new Quinnipiac/CBS News/New York Times poll in the swing states of Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio suggests that it is. In large samples of likely voters — 1,000 respondents or more — Obama leads Florida by 6, Ohio by 6 and Pennsylvania by 11.  Significantly, the president is at or above the 50% mark in his vote. Looking deeper, the internals of the poll have more good news for Obama. Romney’s unfavorable ratings exceed his favorable ones in all three states, evidence that Obama’s negative ads as well as Romney’s own gaffes have taken a toll. By contrast, the president is viewed favorably in these swing states by a  majority of voters.

Finally, the poll suggests that for now, in these states, the structure of the race may have changed to favor Obama.  The basic tension in the race has been defined as between Romney’s favorability problems and Obama’s economic problems. It explains why the race is so close.  But perhaps most worrisome to Romney is the finding that even on his strength, the economy, voters in two of the three states narrowly believe Obama will do a better job.  Romney’s got work to do.