TALLAHASSEE — President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney could be headed for a photo finish in Florida this November, a poll released Thursday shows.
Forty-four percent of 1,169 Florida voters surveyed by Quinnipiac University between April 25 and May 1 said they would vote for Romney if the election were now, compared with 43 percent who said they prefer the president.
The latest snapshot of voter preferences has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points. The new figures were an improvement for Romney, who trailed Obama by 7 percentage points among Florida voters in late March.
The Connecticut-based polling institute also showed Obama and Romney within the margin of error in Ohio, while the president was favored by 47 percent to 39 percent among Pennsylvania voters.
No one has won the presidency since 1960 without carrying two of the three key swing states.
Florida, the nation's fourth-largest state, provides 29 of the required 270 electoral votes needed to win. Obama carried Florida by nearly a quarter-million votes in his 2008 win over Republican John McCain.
The new survey shows the sluggish economy working in Romney's favor at the moment with voters in the Sunshine State. Nearly half, 49 percent, said they believe Romney would do a better job handing the economy, while 40 percent said Obama would do better.
And while Obama appears to have strong support among women voters nationally, Quinnipiac's survey showed that aspect of the race is much tighter in Florida, where the female preferences were almost evenly split.
Roughly two-thirds of the respondents in all three states said they believe the economy is in a recession, although at least 51 percent in each of the states felt a recovery is under way.
The poll showed that 51 percent of Florida voters also support repeal of the 2010 health care reform legislation supported by Obama, and Florida voters oppose the U.S. military's presence in Afghanistan by better than a 2-to-1 ratio.