Poll: Florida headed for another close election


Published: Wednesday, January 11, 2012 at 10:33 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 11, 2012 at 10:33 a.m.

TALLAHASSEE — Another photo finish may be in store for Floridians this fall when they decide whether they want to re-elect President Barack Obama.

A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday shows former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney with a slight lead over Obama in Florida while former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum was slightly behind the president in head-to-head matchups. A random telephone survey of 1,412 registered Florida voters showed 46 percent favored Republican Romney to 43 percent for Obama. Forty-five percent said they preferred Obama to 43 percent who chose Santorum. The poll taken between Jan. 4-8 has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.

Hilary Clinton defeated Obama in Florida's 2008 Democratic primary, but Obama defeated John McCain to capture Florida's 27 electoral votes in the general election. The state has 29 electoral votes up for grabs this time based on the 2010 census.

Obama appears to have a difficult road ahead if he hopes to carry Florida a second time in November Slightly more than half, 52 percent, said he does not deserve a second term while 54 percent disapproved of how he's handled the job compared to 42 percent who rated the president's performance positively.

"The election isn't for 10 more months so he has plenty of time to turn things around," Quinnipiac's assistant polling director, Peter Brown, said. "President Obama needs to mend fences in the Sunshine State, especially among men, whites and those voters without college degrees."

Obama was favored by a 46-41 margin among women but only 40 percent of the men said they would vote for him compared to 52 percent who would choose his opponent. Obama is favored by 51 percent of voters between ages 18 and 49 to 39 percent opposed, but his support drops voters over 50 who make up a majority of the electorate.

Only 4 percent of the Republicans surveyed said they would vote for Obama while 9 percent of Democrats said they favored Romney.

Florida has experienced a number of nail-biting finishes over the years in major races, the most memorable being the 2000 recount in the presidential race that determined that Republican Texas Gov. George W. Bush defeated Vice President Al Gore by a scant 537 votes. Bush's younger brother, Jeb Bush, lost to Gov. Lawton Chiles by 1.6 percentage points in 1994 and Connie Mack III defeated Buddy MacKay by less than a percentage point in the 1988 U.S. Senate race between congressmen.

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