Image: President Barack Obama
Larry Downing  /  REUTERS
President Barack Obama greets students before he speaks in the BankUnited Center at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, October 11, 2012.
By
NBC News
updated 10/11/2012 4:57:42 PM ET 2012-10-11T20:57:42

President Barack Obama's campaign manager cautioned Thursday that the election is "far from over," just as polls show GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney gaining on Obama.

"This thing is far from over," campaign manager Jim Messina said on a conference call, "and every single day, across the battleground states, voters are voting and we are able to affect that vote every single day."

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Messina was speaking on a call to boast of their campaign's efforts to register voters in key swing states, and, beyond that, encourage early voting where it's allowed.

There are signs that this strategy has paid dividends, too. Almost 1-in-5 respondents in the Thursday NBC News-Wall Street Journal-Marist poll of Ohio said they had voted early; 63 percent of those who had already cast ballots said they had voted for Obama.

At the same time, though, Romney has eaten into Obama's lead in swing states like Ohio, Virginia and Florida on the strength of his debate performance last week against the president. The tightening polls have prompted Democratic nervousness that Romney stands a better-than-expected chance at winning the election.

Messina sent out a clarion call to supporters to warn against complacency.

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"The most important think I learned when I was running track was to finish strong," he said. "At the end of a race, you sprint and lean into the tape, you don't let up. And quite simply, we're not going to let up until Election Night when we win this thing. And the ground game we've built up over the past few years will help us drive hard right through that finish line."

Romney political director Rich Beeson said in response: “Since the debate, we’ve seen a 63 percent increase in volunteer hours, a growing enthusiasm gap that continues to favor Governor Romney, a strengthening of our already strong ground game,  and we’re seeing the effects of this in polling numbers across the battleground states. What the Obama campaign didn’t tell you is that we are leading or even with them in early vote in key states across the country – FL, NC, CO, NV, and NH. Our early vote numbers are outperforming voter registration in battleground states, demonstrating the strength of our ground game and the excitement for the Romney/Ryan ticket.  Not only are we keeping pace with the vaunted Obama machine, but we believe our ground game will put us over the finish line on Election Day.”

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Video: New battleground polls from Florida, Ohio and Virginia

  1. Closed captioning of: New battleground polls from Florida, Ohio and Virginia

    >> what should we expect tonight? david gregory is moderator of "meet the press." and chuck todd is the chief white house correspondent. good morning to you both.

    >> good morning.

    >> good morning.

    >> let's start with your new poll. florida , ohio , and virginia . the battleground states , we'll put the results on the screen. and what we see is a tight, tight dead heat in florida and in virginia . in ohio , you still see the president hanging on to a lead. i guess you could say that romney has the trend line but ohio is still a problem for him.

    >> it is. and the biggest finding in our ohio poll, savannah is the early vote . 1 in 5 ohio voters according to our survey have already voted. and among those folks, the president leads 2 to 1 margin, 60 over 60% that he gets from those who have already voted. and that is an advantage. we know they've been talking about that. and that is why, for instance, our likely voters, we have a lot more democrats than maybe some people think will end up in the ohio poll and that's because a lot of democrats have already voted. another factor in all three of these polls, savannah is that over 90% said the debates made no difference in their vote. it was something about 6%, 7% respectively who said the debates matter to their votes. that is while not as helpful to romney as he might have hoped.

    >> so the debate had maybe not as much of an impact. where do they stand in terms of favorability ratings?

    >> well, there is some good news for romney . he's now right side up, more people have a favorable view of him. but a negative rating in ohio . more people have an unfavorable view of him in ohio than a favorable one. and that's why you'll see him spend a lot of time there. he has narrowed that gap from eight points down to six. he's going to have to get that personal favorable rating. and the president has been pounding him with negative ads.

    >> where do you see the president's job approval in this poll?

    >> well, the one thing i would say is a yellow flag for the president is that job approval rating , particularly in ohio . so in florida and virginia , the job approval is at 48%, about matches his ballot. that's what happens, what your job approval rating is and what you end up on a general election ballot is usually the same number. in ohio , he's at 51%, but his job rating's at 47%. it's unusual to overperform your job rating that high. if you're the romney

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