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Poll: Debt battle erodes Obama support, especially among Florida independents

TALLAHASSEE — Most Floridians say President Barack Obama doesn't deserve a second term after an emotional debate over the national debt ceiling, according to a Quinnipiac poll released Thursday.

The survey also showed Mitt Romney leading the pack of GOP presidential candidates in Florida and depicted a wide-open Republican U.S. Senate primary as Plant City tree farmer Mike McCalister held a slim lead.

Obama's 44 percent approval was down from 51 percent in May after news that Osama bin Laden had been killed.

The actual debt deal had little effect on Obama's rating, but the debate caused a significant slide among independent voters.

"The president's drop off is huge among independent voters, who now disapprove almost 2 to 1," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

While most Floridians said in May that Obama should get a second term, those results flipped after the deal: 50 percent now say no, 42 percent say yes.

The debt debate also cut into hypothetical match-ups for the Democratic president.

Previously Obama held a 5-percentage-point lead over Romney in Florida. Now the two are tied at 44 percent.

In the Republican primary, Romney was atop a potential field of 10 candidates with 23 percent. The next top contender, Texas Gov. Rick Perry at 13 percent, has not yet decided to run.

In the Senate primary, McCalister received support from 15 percent of GOP voters in his first Quinnipiac poll. That was 3 percentage points higher than George LeMieux, who held the office for 16 months.

The lead was statistically insignificant but surprising. McCalister's only political experience is finishing third in a three-way GOP primary for governor in 2010. He spent almost nothing in that race beyond the filing fee yet collected 10 percent of the vote in an otherwise heated (and expensive) battle featuring Rick Scott and Bill McCollum.

Businessman Craig Miller received 8 percent in the Senate poll and former state House Rep. Adam Hasner received 6 percent. Most Republican voters (53 percent) remain undecided.

The poll showed Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson ahead of a generic Republican challenger, 46 percent to 35 percent.

Nelson has a 45 percent approval rating. His Republican colleague, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, has a 49 percent rating.

The July 27-Aug. 2 poll of 1,417 registered voters had a margin of error of 3.8 percentage points. The poll of 510 Republicans had an error margin of 4.3 points.

Michael C. Bender can be reached at mbender@sptimes.com.

Poll: Debt battle erodes Obama support, especially among Florida independents 08/04/11 [Last modified: Thursday, August 4, 2011 11:15pm]

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