President Barack Obama is clinging to a 1-point lead over Republican Mitt Romney in Florida, 46 percent to 45 percent, with 7 percent undecided, according to a Suffolk University/7NEWS (WSVN-Miami) poll of likely voters in the Sunshine State. The figure is well within the survey’s 4 percent margin of error.
This result contrasts with a Suffolk University/7NEWS (WSVN-Miami) poll of likely voters taken at the beginning of the GOP primary season in January, when Romney led Obama by 47 percent to 42 percent in Florida.
“Despite locking up the Republican nomination and a strong showing in the Florida Republican primary in January, Romney still has a lot of work to do to win over Florida voters,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. “He would need to repair the fallout of negativity from the Republican primaries by being more likable and offering general-election voters a positive alternative to President Obama.”
The bruising Republican Primary has led to a popularity slide for Romney, with 42 percent of likely voters rating him favorably and 45 percent unfavorably. This compares to Romney’s January ratings of 44 percent favorable and 37 percent unfavorable.
Some voters cited negative views of Romney as motivation to choose Obama. In the Obama-Romney matchup, the poll showed that 77 percent of Obama voters would cast votes “for Obama,” while 23 percent would be voting “against Romney.” The “against Romney” subset of current Obama voters grew from 17 percent in January to 23 percent today.
Majority says country on wrong track
Although a clear majority of Sunshine State voters (60 percent) said they felt the country was on the wrong track, the number of voters who believe the country is on the right track has jumped to 31 percent, up from 27 percent in January and 20 percent in October 2011.
“This positive movement on perceptions about the direction of the country over two consecutive polls is solid evidence that things are looking better to those who weren’t sure in the last poll,” said Paleologos. “An acceleration of this number is the trajectory that Obama could ride to reelection as people tie the economy to his incumbency in a positive way.”
Despite Friday’s report that the national unemployment rate had dropped to 8.1 percent – a three-year low – 43 percent of likely voters indicated that the jobs outlook is poor in Florida; 38 percent rated it as fair; 11 percent said it is good; and 2 percent said excellent.
Analyzing VP choices
Both Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and former Gov. Jeb Bush could move voters to Romney. A Romney-Bush ticket would lead Obama-Biden by 2 points, and a Romney-Rubio ticket would lead Obama-Biden by 3 points, 47 percent to 44 percent.
“A small percentage of Obama voters would leave the Democratic ticket to follow Rubio, tipping the scales to the GOP,” said Paleologos. “In a contest likely decided by 1 or 2 points, Rubio’s ballot presence could be the key to Florida’s electoral votes.”
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton’s popularity continues to climb, with 68 percent of likely Florida voters viewing her favorably and 26 seeing her in an unfavorable light. In January, she also was the most popular of those tested, with a 63 percent favorable and a 30 percent unfavorable rating.