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McCain's lost independents, polls find, giving Obama edge

WASHINGTON — Three weeks before the Nov. 4 election, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama is winning big in key battleground states, polls released Tuesday find.

The new Quinnipiac Polling Institute surveys found Obama passing the key 50 percent mark in Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. And for the first time, Obama leads Republican nominee John McCain among white voters in all four states.

"Those margins may be insurmountable barring a reversal that has never been seen before in the modern era in which polling monitors public opinion throughout the campaign," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

The faltering economy is clearly helping Obama. "By wide margins, voters in each state say Senator Obama understands the economy better than Senator McCain," the poll analysis found.

Among the findings in the polls, conducted earlier this month:

-- Colorado: Obama 52 percent, McCain 43 percent.

-- Michigan: Obama, 55 percent, McCain, 37 percent.

-- Minnesota: Obama, 51 percent, McCain, 43 percent.

-- Wisconsin: Obama, 51 percent, McCain, 43 percent.

Brown noted that, "the only possible bright spot for Senator McCain – and you would need Mary Poppins to find it in these numbers – is that he is holding roughly the same portion of the Republican vote. But McCain's support among independent voters, a group he says are key to winning the White House, has collapsed."

McCain's best chance of winning, he said, is a "knockout" in Wednesday's third and final debate.

”But given that he has been judged by the electorate to have lost both of the previous face-offs, that would seem to be a very tall order," Brown said.

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