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Romney Closes In on Obama in 3 Swing States: NBC-WSJ Poll

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney laughs at a campaign event at Saint Anselm College on August 20, 2012 in Manchester, New Hampshire.
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Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney laughs at a campaign event at Saint Anselm College on August 20, 2012 in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Mitt Romney's strong performance in the first presidential election debate has drawn him closer in the race for the White House against President Barack Obama, according to new NBC News/Wall Street Journal polls of three swing states.

In Virginia, Romney leads Obama by 48 percent to 47 percent among likely voters. Before last week's debate, Obama held a slim two percentage point lead.

In Florida, the Democratic incumbent leads his Republican challenger by 48 percent to 47 percent among likely voters. That one percentage point margin was unchanged since before the debate.

(Read More: Will the Debates Change Your Vote?)

And in Ohio, Romney has trimmed two percentage points off Obama's pre-debate lead. Obama holds a 51 percent to 45 percent edge among likely voters.

All three surveys were conducted for NBC/WSJ by the Marist College Institute of Public Opinion, with margins for error of 3.1 percentage points.

In all three states, the overwhelmingly majority of voters said they'd selected a candidate before watching last week's debate. But favorable assessments of Romney ticked up in all three battlegrounds.

Ohio looms especially large in electoral college calculations for both the Obama and Romney campaigns. Even if the former Massachusetts governor wins all battlegrounds in which he is currently ahead or tied with Obama, he'd still need Ohio's 18 electoral votes to reach the 270 he needs to win the White House.

(Read More: CNBC Poll: Economy's Worse, but Obama Favored to Fix It.)

—By CNBC's John Harwood; Follow Him on Twitter @JohnJHarwood

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