The polls, sponsored by Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, were conducted by the Mellman Group, a Democratic polling firm; and Hill Research Consultants, a Republican firm, with assistance from GOP consultant Mike Murphy.
The polls confirmed conventional wisdom that the economy was the top issue in the race, but national security was a key issue for many voters in both states -- almost as decisive a factor as the federal deficit and more important than taxes.
The survey tested opinion on foreign policy issues among 600 active voters in Ohio and 603 active voters in Florida. In Florida, 27 percent said the impact of the Arab Spring on U.S. interests was good, while 47 percent said it is not good and 25 percent were unsure. People in Ohio had a similar response.
Despite their interest in foreign affairs, the survey found more people familiar with Britain's soccer star David Beckham than Prime Minister David Cameron, more in both states were familiar with basketball star Yao Ming than Chinese heir-apparent Xi Jinping and 32 percent in Florida and 24 percent in Japan correctly identified Japan as a country without nuclear weapons.
The survey was conducted Oct. 3-7 and has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.