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WASHINGTON - Republican White House hopeful Mitt Romney is losing favor among US voters just three months ahead of his tough election battle with President Barack Obama, a new poll showed Wednesday.
The Washington Post-ABC News poll showed that 49 percent of voters have a negative view of the former Massachusetts governor, up from 45 percent in May.
Forty percent of voters, meanwhile, see him in a positive light, practically the same proportion from the spring.
In contrast, 53 percent of voters said they had a favorable opinion of challenger Obama, while 43 percent said they felt negatively about him.
By a margin of 53 percent to 40 percent, more key independent voters see Obama favorably rather than unfavorably. Fifty percent of this group view Romney unfavorably, compared to 37 percent who consider him favorably.
Romney has had a rough summer marred in part by a series of slip-ups during a trip abroad to Britain, Israel and Poland. He has also come under fire for his refusal to release his tax returns from before 2010.
Among supporters of his own Republican Party, 83 percent have a good feeling about Romney ahead of the November 6 election but just 41 percent feel "strongly favorable." Sixty-one percent of Democrats meanwhile feel this way about their candidate.
The poll, carried out August 1-5, surveyed 1,026 adults, and the margin of sampling error was plus or minus four percentage points.
A separate Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News poll released Wednesday shows a tight race shaping up in the battleground states of Colorado, Virginia and Wisconsin, three states won by Obama in 2008.
While Romney leads Obama 50 percent to 45 percent in Colorado, the president is ahead 49-45 percent in Virginia, and 51-45 percent in Wisconsin, according to the poll.
Most voters in the three states appear to have already made up their minds, said Quinnipiac assistant director Peter Brown, suggesting that Obama and Romney are slugging it out over a limited number of undecided voters.
"Nine out of 10 in each state say they are sure they will vote for the candidate they favor, which means that the pool of those who say they can be persuaded is pretty small," Brown said.
Voters in Virginia and Wisconsin see the two candidates as roughly even on the question of who can best fix the economy -- the top issue in the 2012 election.
But in Colorado Romney is ahead on that front by 10 points.
The Quinnipiac poll was conducted July 31 to August 6 and has a margin of error of 2.6 percentage points.
The new figures come as Obama heads to Colorado on the campaign trail Wednesday, while Romney has events in Iowa.
Analysts and political experts say the 2012 election will come down to the results in about 10 battleground states.
A Quinnipiac poll last week showed Obama ahead of Romney in the three largest swing states: Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. No candidate has won the White House since 1960 without winning at least two of those three states.