The much-anticipated Time/CNN battleground polls were released Wednesday, with Barack Obama showing surprising strength in three states, including North Carolina, that many were beginning to write off.

The results:

_Florida: Obama 48, McCain 48

_North Carolina: McCain 48, Obama 47

_Ohio: Obama 49, McCain 47

_Indiana: McCain 51, Obama 45

_Wisconsin: Obama 50, McCain 47

The North Carolina, Ohio, and Florida polls give Obama quite a bounce from recent polls, including surveys released Wednesday from American Research Group that have McCain up 11 in North Carolina and six in Ohio. The Time/CNN polls were conducted more recently than most of the ARG polls, however, perhaps reflecting a slight Obama uptick from the past few days of pointed economic swipes at McCain.

Bright spots for the Republican: ARG has him leading by two in Colorado and five in Missouri, which for now has seemingly lost its battleground status. Wisconsin gave John Kerry just a one-point victory four years ago, and the state race has been tightening in recent polls.

The usual caveat applies here: Today’s numbers reinforce the volatility of the race _ and of polls in general. Take them only as momentary good or bad news, depending on your team.

Still, the Time/CNN numbers may be showing a reopening of one Obama path to the White House. The campaign has argued that it could win without Ohio and Florida (if it wins Pennsylvania), but to do so would require Obama to perform well in Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada, where polls show a statistical tie or slight McCain lead.

In more good news for Obama, we’ve finally had a sighting of the elusive Joe Biden Bounce in Virginia, where a new Public Policy Polling survey out Wednesday has Obama leading John McCain by two points in Virginia, 48-46.

The difference maker? It might be Biden, who has a net 11 point favorability rating (38 percent more likely to vote for the ticket because of him, versus 27 percent less likely). Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin has a two point net favorability (42-40 percent).

Virginia is the only state PPP has polled where Biden gets better overall reviews than Palin.

Update: A Virginia poll conducted last Wednesday through Sunday but just released, has McCain up 48-39.

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The Ballot, hosted by Charlotte Observer enterprise reporter Peter St. Onge, follows political news, interviews, and perspective from North Carolina and across the country leading up to Election Day. Read more at http://obsprimary.blogspot.com/.

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© 2008, The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.).

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