But the parties still have a big challenge ahead in their ground games. Early voting begins Saturday in Florida.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney pushed above the 50 percent mark in the poll conducted between Oct. 22 and Oct. 24 by Harrisburg, Pa.-based Voter Survey Service.
Of 1,001 likely Florida voters, 51 percent were ready to vote for Romney to 46 percent for President Obama.
Only 12 percent said the recent debates had any sway on their opinion, with 40 percent of those individuals saying they switched from Obama to Romney and just 22 percent going the other way.
“The fact that Romney as the “challenger” is already at 51 percent is a huge indication this race is all but over -- undecided voters aren’t like to break for the incumbent in this kind of environment.”
The results run similar to many other recent polls for Florida conducted by:
Rasmussen, 52 percent to 46 percent for Romney;
CNN, 49 percent to 48 percent for Romney;
PPP, 48 percent to 47 percent for Romney;
Gravis Marketing, 50 percent to 49 percent.
A Newsmax poll put the contest at 48 percent to 42 percent for Obama.
University of South Florida political science professor Susan Macmanus said the contest will ultimately come down to how the campaigns are able to get their voters to show up and cast ballots.
“Polls can never predict turnout,” Macmanus said.
She said political observers will have a better grasp on Florida after the early voting period begins this weekend and turnout numbers can be seen in urban areas such as Tampa and Orlando, which are expected to be strengths for Obama.
“Much has been touted about the superior organization of the Obama campaign, but we will have a better look at it in the next few days,” Macmanus said.
Meanwhile, the state, as of Thursday morning, had already received 1.05 million absentee ballots back from voters, of which 468,417 are from registered Republicans and 414,343 from registered Democrats, according to the Division of Elections.
According to the VSS poll results, in which 50 percent of those contacted labeled themselves conservative and the rest evenly split as liberal or moderate, Romney is winning the argument about jobs creation by a 2-1 margin, and even on international issues by a 51 percent to 44 percent margin.
Lee said the internal results suggest Romney’s debate performance at Lynn University in Boca Raton helped and that the fallout from the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya continues to drag on Obama.
They are also important “because national polling earlier this year showed Obama had stolen the long GOP-held honor of the party best able to fight terrorism and deal with international issues,” Lee added.
Romney has a 15 percentage-point margin with men, with Obama having a 5 percentage-point edge with women voters.
While Obama continues to win with young and black voters, he is underperforming from his 2008 victory with suburban, women and Hispanic voters.
The poll also suggests that Obama may be losing some support in the black community, as 21 percent of the respondents identifying themselves as African-American plan to vote for Romney.
Lee noted that while some polls using "live" pollsters have pushed Obama numbers above 90 percent among black voters, those using automated polls have shown a more diverse outcome.
“This would suggest perhaps Obama won't be on track to get 95 percent of the black vote this time, but only 90 percent or even less.”
The numbers give Romney expected advantages in the Panhandle and Southwest Florida, while holding leads in the critical I-4 corridor, which went for Obama in 2008.
Meanwhile, while Obama continues his lead in Southeast Florida, the numbers are down from 2008.
Lee noted that Palm Beach County, which Obama carried by 23 points four years ago, now appears as a 12-point advantage for the president.
See the cross-tabs and methodology for this poll in the attachments below.
The margin of error for a sample size of 1,001 interviews is +/- 3.1 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.
Reach Jim Turner at email@example.com or at (772) 215-9889.