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US Political Survey: Trump, Clinton Lead in Key States

Audience members raise their hands to ask U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump a question at a campaign town hall meeting in Rochester, New Hampshire September 17, 2015.

A new U.S. political survey shows billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump with a sizeable lead in three key battleground states in his bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is holding diminished leads in the same states as she seeks the Democratic nomination, Quinnipiac University said Wednesday as its released results from its polling in recent days.

Quinnipiac said it surveyed voters in the midwestern state of Ohio, neighboring Pennsylvania and the southern state of Florida because of their importance in U.S. presidential elections.

Since 1960, no candidate has been elected president without winning two of these three large states.

The pollster said the flamboyant Trump, who routinely derides his opponents as weak, is favored by 23 percent of Republicans in Ohio, with former neurosurgeon Ben Carson in second at 18 percent and the state's governor, John Kasich, at 13 percent.

In Pennsylvania, Trump also has 23 percent support among Republicans, with Carson at 17 percent, and 12 percent for Florida Senator Marco Rubio. Florida Republicans favor Trump by 28 to 16 percent for Carson, with Rubio at 14 percent.

In the Democratic race, Clinton holds substantial leads in all three states over Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, a Democratic socialist who has campaigned against the power of big businesses in the United States, and Vice President Joe Biden, who is considering a late entry into the presidential contest.

Quinnipiac said that in hypothetical presidential matchups in the November 2016 election, Biden would fare better than Clinton against several possible Republican contenders. Biden is expected to announce soon whether he intends to seek the Democratic presidential nomination.

The Quinnipiac survey shows that while Trump and Clinton remain ahead of their challengers, they also have the worst favorability ratings among the leading candidates, with voters giving them low scores for being honest and trustworthy.