Rasmussen poll: Obama nearly tied with Santorum, ahead of Romney

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In Florida as in Ohio and among voters nationally, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum now runs slightly stronger against President Obama than Republican front-runner Mitt Romney. Obama is essentially even with Santorum in the Sunshine State but leads Romney by three points.

A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in Florida shows Obama earning 47% support to Santorum’s 46%. Four percent (4%) prefer some other candidate, and four percent (4%) remain undecided.

If Romney is the GOP nominee, Obama leads 47% to 44%. Five percent (5%) like some other candidate in the race, and three percent (3%) are undecided.

Romney’s performance in Florida has changed notably from a poll conducted in November when he held a 46% to 42% lead over the president.  Santorum was not matched against the president in that survey.

These new findings come less than two week after Romney scored a major win in the state’s Republican Primary. He earned 46% of the vote to Newt Gingrich’s 32% and Santorum’s 13%.  But Santorum now wins 92% of the Florida GOP vote when pitted against Obama, while Romney earns only 85% Republican support against the incumbent. When matched against a generic Republican opponent in Florida, Obama trailed by six in November.  But the president has consistently run stronger against named GOP candidates than he did against the generic one. Also, his job approval ratings have improved in recent weeks as Americans become a bit more bullish on the economy.

Nationally, it’s Obama 50%, Romney 40% and Santorum 46%, Obama 42%.

Among Republican voters nationwide, Romney leads with 34%, followed by Gingrich at 27%, Santorum at 18% and Texas Congressman Ron Paul with 11%. But that survey was taken before Santorum’s Tuesday sweep of caucuses in Colorado and Minnesota and a non-binding primary in Missouri.

The economy remains the top issue among voters nationwide, and in Florida, just seven percent (7%) rate current economic conditions positively. Fifty-one percent (51%) believe the economy is in poor shape. Positive marks for the economy are lower in Florida than they are nationwide.

Obama wins overwhelmingly among Florida votes who give good marks to the economy, but both Republicans capture around 70% of those who rate the economy as poor. Thirty-seven percent (37%) believe the economy is getting better, while 33% think it is getting worse.

Just 31% of Florida voters believe the government bailouts were good for the United States, while 52% view them as bad for the country. These sentiments are only slightly less critical of the bailouts than results measured nationwide.

Obama earns over 80% support against both Republicans from voters who see the bailouts as a good move. Among those who regard the bailouts as a bad idea, 66% support Romney and 67% Santorum when pitted against the president.

Romney is viewed favorably by 51% of Florida voters, Santorum by 50%.

Forty-eight percent (48%) at least somewhat approve of Obama’s job performance, with 28% who Strongly Approve. This is in line with his job approval ratings nationally in the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll.

Both Republicans draw roughly 60% of the vote from men in Florida, while 57% of women support the president in both match ups. Most married voters like the Republicans; the majority of unmarrieds prefer the president.

Florida voters not affiliated with either major political party give the president double-digit leads against both Republicans.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.