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Obama Leads Mitt Romney in Florida in New Q-Poll

July 31, 2012 - 6:00pm

Quinnipiac University, CBS News and the New York Times released polls of three key states -- Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania -- on Wednesday. And in all of those electoral battlegrounds, President Barack Obama is taking 50 percent or more over former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, the presumptive Republican candidate.

Obama takes 51 percent in Florida while Romney garners 45 percent. In Ohio, the president garners 50 percent while Romney follows with 44 percent. In Pennsylvania, a state the Republicans last carried in a presidential election in 1988, Obama does the best, taking 53 percent while Romney lags with 42 percent.

"If today were November 6, President Barack Obama would sweep the key swing states of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania and -- if history is any guide -- into a second term in the Oval Office," said Peter Brown, the assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

"The president is running better in the key swing states than he is nationally. Part of the reason may be that the unemployment rate in Ohio is well below the national average. In Florida it has been dropping over the past year, while nationally that has not been the case.

"All this matters because half of all likely voters say the economy is the most important issue to their vote, far ahead of any other issue, Brown continued. The saving grace for Governor Mitt Romney is that he roughly breaks even with the president on who is best on the economy.

Mulling over the poll results, Brown said they could help shape Romneys selection of a running mate.

"The president's strength among women is the dominant dynamic fueling his lead, Brown said. It is this dynamic that argues for Romney to pick a female running mate. On the other hand, the president's lead in Ohio and Florida also argues for the selection by Romney of Senator Rob Portman or Senator Marco Rubio, since he can't win the White House without the Buckeye and Sunshine states and presumably these home state senators would be the most helpful."

The poll of likely Florida voters finds that 50 percent of them see Obama in a favorable light while 46 percent view him as unfavorable. Romney is slightly upside down with Florida voters in the poll, with 41 percent of them seeing him as favorable and 42 percent as unfavorable.

Obama takes 51 percent of the women surveyed in Florida while 44 percent prefer Romney. Men also break for the Democrat with 50 percent of them backing Obama and 46 percent Romney.

While both candidates do well with their respective parties in Florida, Obama edges Romney among independents, taking 47 percent of them while Romney garners the support of 46 percent of them.

Brown said the poll did have some good news for Romney as he tries to make political hay out of Obamas handling of the economy.

"One of the few positives for Romney in Florida is that voters are split on whether his election would help or hurt their pocketbook, but by 38 percent to 23 percent they say the president's re-election would leave their wallets thinner,' Brown said.

The poll shows a majority of those surveyed in Florida -- 52 percent -- think the economy is the most important issue while 22 percent say health care and 9 percent think it is the deficit. Romney edges Obama when Florida voters were asked who would do a better job on handling the economy, with 47 percent saying the Republicans and 45 percent insisting the Democrats can. Florida voters think Obama can do a better job than Romney on health care with 50 percent thinking the president is better on the issue and 42 percent saying the Republican can do a better job.

Obamas call for more taxes on families making more than $250,000 gets the support of 58 percent of Florida voters surveyed while 37 percent oppose the proposed tax hike.

The poll also finds that Romneys refusal to release his tax returns could be hurting him in the Sunshine State. A majority of those surveyed -- 53 percent -- think the candidates should release several years of tax returns while 19 percent think they should only release the records from the last one or two years. Less than a quarter -- 23 percent -- think the candidates should not release their tax returns.

The poll finds U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., has the edge over U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fla., who is the favorite to emerge with the Republican nomination in the Aug. 14 primary. Nelson takes 47 percent of likely voters while Mack follows with 40 percent. Mack is doing better than the Democrat incumbent with independents, taking 43 percent while Nelson follows with 40 percent.

The poll also shows Gov. Rick Scott remains upside down. A majority of those surveyed -- 52 percent -- disapprove of Scotts performance in Tallahassee, while 36 percent approve of it.

The polls of 1,177 likely voters in Florida, 1,193 likely voters in Ohio and 1,168 likely voters in Pennsylvania were taken from July 24-30. The polls of Florida and Pennsylvania voters had margins of error of +/- 2.9 percent while the survey of Ohio voters had a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percent.

Reach Kevin Derby at or at (850) 727-0859.

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