The poll by Public Policy Polling shows the former Massachusetts governor with 48 percent of the vote, Obama with 47 percent and 4 percent of voters still undecided. The poll, which was conducted Wednesday and Thursday after Tuesday night’s second debate, also has a plus-minus margin of error of 4 percent.
“Looks like it’s going to be another nail-biter,” said Kevin Wagner, an associate professor in the political science department at Florida Atlantic University. “The race is a statistical tie that’s probably going to come down to turnout, to which candidate gets his people to the polls just a little bit better than his opponent.”
And it could be a significant turnout, with 80 percent of the survey respondent saying they were “very enthusiastic” about the presidential election and 13 percent saying they were “somewhat enthusiastic.”
“Both sides are pumped up,” said Jim Williams, a Public Policy Polling analyst, “and it’s no surprise that partisanship is going to play such an important role (in the race). America is very divided, and Florida is divided as well. The two big questions are: Who’s going to bring out more of their voters? And who is going to win over more of the independent vote?”
Like the overall race, the fight for independents is a virtual dead heat, with 47 percent lined up behind Obama and 46 percent going for Romney, according to the survey.
“Even in a state as big as Florida,” Williams said, “the ground game — making voter contact and knocking on doors — is going to have to be effective in order to win.”
Not surprisingly, the economy is the issue most important to voters, with 51 percent of respondents ranking it in the top spot.
The importance of the economy on the election crossed all party, gender and ethnic categories.
Romney convinced 17 percent of Democratic respondents and 54 percent of independents that he’d do a better job fixing the economy. Only 12 percent of Republicans and 39 percent of independents are convinced Obama has the better economic plan.
“The president was handed an unbelievable deficit, two unfunded wars, a Wall Street on the brink of ruin and a bankrupt economy,” Bush said. “There’s no quick fix for all of that. … The reality is that every month the economy is growing and we’re getting jobs back. The deregulation that the Republicans want to do hasn’t done anything but make the rich richer.”
Wagner said to “give the Romney campaign some credit. He’s done a good job of positioning himself as a fix-it guy when it comes to the economy, and not just in this poll but in others as well.”
Romney won the white vote with 57 percent to Obama’s 38 percent and edged past the incumbent among Hispanics, 49 percent to 46 percent.
Williams said Romney’s lead among Hispanic voters “can be chalked up to the South Florida Hispanic community, especially in the Miami area where they tend to vote more Republican.”
Obama fared slightly better among women, getting 50 percent of their votes to Romney’s 45 percent, and the president garnered a whopping 89 percent of the African-American vote to Romney’s 10 percent.
“From my perspective, I don’t think the women’s vote is going to be as skewed toward Obama as the survey may say,” Auld said. “Women care about more than the availability of birth control pills. They care about the economy, about jobs. They care about national security. To assume that women are automatically in the Obama camp is wrong.”
Although 91 percent of the survey respondents said they watched the presidential debate Tuesday night, 35 percent said it didn’t affect their vote.
“We’re seeing this in other states as well,” Williams said, “where more people think Obama won the second debate, but we’re not seeing that move the numbers over to his side the way Romney moved the numbers after he had such a good showing in the first debate.”
None of the Democrats surveyed and only 2 percent of the Republicans said they still might change their minds before Election Day. The survey also notes that 42 percent of respondents made up their minds early and haven’t been swayed by political advertising, the conventions, the debates and other criteria.
“I think that could be an unrealistically high number,” Wagner said. “People don’t like to see themselves as waffling.”