From Public Policy Polling: It doesn’t look like Florida will be losing its status as one of the most competitive states in the country at the Presidential level next year- voters in the state are almost evenly divided on Barack Obama’s job performance and although he leads all six of the Republicans we tested him against, some of the margins are quite close.
48% of Florida voters approve of the job Obama’s doing to 47% who disapprove. His numbers break down predictably- 81% of Democrats like him, Republicans dislike him at an even higher rate of 85%, and allowing him to have slightly positive overall numbers is that he’s on positive ground with independents at 49/44.
Two potential Republican opponents- one quite plausible and the other a long shot- would start out virtually tied with the President. Mitt Romney does the best, trailing Obama 46-44. Given that there are two undecided Republicans for every Democrat in that match up you’re basically looking at an even match. It’s a sign of Romney’s appeal in the Sunshine State that he actually does a hair better than former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who trails Obama 48-45 in the state.
Obama would start out in a slightly healthier position against four other Republicans we tested. He leads Rudy Giuliani by 6 points at 48-42, Mike Huckabee by 7 at 50-43, Newt Gingrich by 8 at 50-42, and Sarah Palin by 13 at 52-39.
When it comes to the favorability numbers on the Republicans the figures for Giuliani might be most interesting. Only 37% of voters rate him favorably to 46% with a negative opinion. There’s been a lot of ink about whether he could muster the appeal to the GOP base to be a viable wild card candidate for the nomination but these numbers suggest his appeal has slipped quite a bit with the electorate as a whole too.
Three of the Republicans we looked at pretty much broke even on their favorability scores- Huckabee came out slightly ahead at 40/39, Romney’s at 39/39, and Bush is at 44/44. Florida voters have a much more charitable view of Romney and Huckabee than ones in other swing states like Ohio and Virginia- that could actually lead to Florida being less important than it has been in other recent elections because if Obama’s winning in those kinds of places he doesn’t really need Florida for any purpose other than building up the size of his victory.