Barack Obama, Mitt Romney in Close Battle for Florida

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: May 3, 2012 9:56 AM
Barack Obama and Mitt Romney

President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney

A poll released by Quinnipiac University Thursday shows it’s close in Florida between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, the now almost-certain winner in the Republican presidential primary.

The new Q-Poll has Romney taking 44 percent while Obama follows with 43 percent. While 9 percent remain undecided, 3 percent say they would back other candidates. A similar poll from Quinnipiac released at the end of March showed Obama with a solid lead over Romney in Florida, taking 49 percent, while the former Massachusetts governor trailed with 42 percent. Romney won the Florida primary over his Republican rivals at the end of January by a decisive margin.

Quinnipiac also released polls showing Obama with a narrow lead in Ohio, which is considered a swing state come November, and a solid lead over Romney in Pennsylvania, where he beats him by 8 percent.

"Governor Mitt Romney has closed President Barack Obama's leads in Ohio and Florida to the point that those two states are now essentially tied, a turnaround from the end of March when the president enjoyed leads in those key states," said Peter Brown, the assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "The good news for the president is that he has an 8-point lead in Pennsylvania, approaching the 11-point margin he had in carrying the Keystone State in 2008. Overall, Obama is doing slightly better than Romney in these critical swing states today."

Both male and female voters are up for grabs in the Sunshine State with 46 percent of men backing Romney and 42 percent backing Obama. The Democrat does better with women, taking 44 percent of them; Romney garners 42 percent.

The poll shows that Florida voters are souring on Obama. Half of them -- 50 percent -- do not think the president deserves a second term while 45 percent say he deserves to be re-elected. Obama is also upside down in Florida with 50 percent of those surveyed disapproving of his job in the White House while 46 percent approve of it.

Brown noted that Obama also took a step back in Florida in regard to his personal favorabilty.

"The dead heat in Florida appears to be a result of Obama's decline as much as anything else,” said Brown. “In March the president had a 51-44 favorability rating compared to 46-47 percent today. Romney barely moved, from 41-36 favorable in March to 40-34 percent favorable now."

The economy could be why Obama is facing challenges in Florida, a state that he carried back in 2008. The poll shows that 70 percent of those surveyed belive the economy is in a recession but 51 percent believe it’s starting to recover. Only 26 percent think the economy is not in a recession. When asked who they think would do a better job at managing the economy, Florida voters break to Romney with 49 percent saying the Republican would do better while 40 percent say Obama.

Florida voters have also soured on Obama’s signature piece of legislation, according to the poll, with 51 percent of those surveyed hoping the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the federal health-care law that the president signed back in 2010 while 38 percent hope the court upholds it.

Obama does get better marks on foreign policy, with 49 percent approving his management of American forces in Afghanistan while 39 percent disapprove. The poll also finds that Floridians think we should get out of that nation -- with only 27 percent saying America should be involved there while 64 percent think the U.S. should have no role there.

The poll of 1,169 Florida voters was taken from April 25 through May 1 and had a margin of error of +/- 2.9 percent.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com or at (850) 727-0859.

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