Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Poll shows Romney leading Obama in Florida; Rubio helps, gay marriage barely matters

Mitt Romney has crept to a 6 percentage point lead over President Barack Obama in Florida, where a new poll shows a majority of registered voters don't think the incumbent deserves a second term.

Romney's 47 percent to 41 percent lead over Obama would grow even bigger — to an 8 percentage point advantage — if the challenger chose Sen. Marco Rubio a running mate, according to Quinnipiac University's new survey.

The seemingly small 2 point advantage with Rubio could be huge in must-win Florida, which Obama won by just 2.8 percentage points in 2008. The last three presidential elections — including the 2000 elections decided by 537 votes — have been won by an average spread of 2.6 percentage points.

"Given Florida's recent history, if Rubio were to add 2 points to the Republican ticket, that could be quite important," said Peter A. Brown, assistant vice president of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

But there's a catch, Brown noted: The 2 percentage point boost is not "statistically significant" in the 1,722-person poll, which has an error margin of 2.4 percentage points.

Also, Romney's lead might not be as big as the poll indicates because the survey could have undersampled Democrats, who appeared to compose a disproportionately low number of respondents relative to their numbers at the polls or on the voter rolls.

The poll was heavy on nonpartisan and independent voters, who back Romney by 8 percentage points. That could be crucial in Florida, where independents often tip the scales.

Quinnipiac's Brown, however, notes that each respondent was asked if "you consider yourself a Republican, a Democrat, an independent, or what?" Respondents weren't specifically asked how they were registered. So this gauges the mood of the electorate as it shifts right and left in the course of a campaign.

Party identification doesn't necessarily translate into straight party-line votes, either. Registered active-voting Democrats outnumber Republicans by 443,000 in Florida — yet the state Legislature and Cabinet are dominated by Republicans. Nelson is the only statewide elected Democrat.

Still, Quinnipiac's numbers might give Romney a lead that's "a little large," said Brad Coker, pollster with Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, which conducts surveys for the Tampa Bay Times, Miami Herald and private clients.

"Romney probably has a lead that's really about 3 or 4 right now," Coker said. "He's still winning."

The Quinnipiac poll indicates that Romney has closed the so-called "gender gap" among female voters with Obama, who barely leads among Hispanics. And Obama is enjoying almost no advantage for his widely publicized decision to publicly favor same-sex unions, which a majority of Floridians now favor.

But regardless of Rubio or the gay marriage issue, more voters simply view Romney more favorably than they view Obama, the poll shows.

In March, Obama led Romney 49-42. Now, the president is losing in a 13 percentage point swing in Romney's favor. During that time, third-party political groups called super PACs have begun to steadily pound Obama in TV ads.

Romney's biggest advantage: the economy. Exactly half of voters say Romney can handle it best, while 40 percent say the same about Obama.

Also, 52 percent of voters disapprove of Obama's job performance and say he doesn't deserve a second term; 44 percent approve and want to see him re-elected. Romney could also benefit from the fact that half of Republicans are enthusiastic about voting, while less than a third of Democrats say they're enthusiastic.

Though Romney might not need Rubio right now on the ticket, Rubio doesn't hurt him, either.

With Rubio, Romney's lead grows to a 49-41 advantage over Obama — a lead well outside the poll's error margin. Florida voters appear to like Rubio more than Vice President Joe Biden.

About 44 percent have a favorable opinion of Rubio, compared to 36 percent who have a favorable view of Biden. About a quarter of voters have an unfavorable view of Rubio, while 42 percent have an unfavorable view of Biden, the poll shows.

Outside of Florida, Rubio's help to the Romney ticket might not matter much. Other polls indicate the freshman Republican senator isn't well known nationally.

But it might not matter. Romney needs to win Florida, and the poll suggests Rubio would marginally help him do that. Considering the volatile political atmosphere, it's a good bet that the lead could change again in the race.

The poll indicates Florida voters can be fickle.

In 2008, when they chose Obama, more than 60 percent of Florida voters backed a state constitutional ban on gay marriage. Now, the poll says, 50 percent support gay marriage and 40 percent oppose it. Still, that doesn't translate into votes for Obama.

Nearly half of voters say gay marriage is not important at all, while only 22 percent say it's very or extremely important. And about 60 percent of voters say same-sex marriage makes no difference in how they'd vote.

Poll shows Romney leading Obama in Florida; Rubio helps, gay marriage barely matters 05/23/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 23, 2012 5:54pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. In one day, fundraisers appear to reach goal to move Confederate monument from downtown Tampa


    TAMPA — Hillsborough County commissioners gave an ultimatum Wednesday to people who want to move a Confederate monument from downtown Tampa: Raise the money yourselves or it stays. They had 30 days.

    It took 24 hours.

    Private money is flowing in to help move the Memoria in Aeterna Confederate monument from the old county courthouse to a private family cemetery. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  2. Who are the antifa?


    On Monday, President Donald Trump capitulated to the popular demand that he distance himself from his comment that "many sides" were to blame in Charlottesville by explicitly denouncing white nationalism. "Racism is evil," he appeared to grudgingly concede, "including the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists."

    A group of counterprotesters who identified themselves as antifa, or anti-fascists, rest Saturday during a rally of white nationalists in Charlottesville, Va. Counterprotesters in Charlottesville came united against white supremacy, but they advocated a wide array of beliefs, tactics and goals. [Edu Bayer | New York Times]
  3. Lucky carrot: Alberta woman finds mother-in-law's lost ring

    Bizarre News

    CAMROSE, Alberta — A Canadian woman who lost her engagement ring 13 years ago while weeding her garden on the family farm is wearing it proudly again after her daughter-in-law pulled it from the ground on a misshapen carrot.

    In an undated photo provided by Iva Harberg, Mary Grams, 84, holds a carrot that grew through her engagement ring in Alberta, Canada. Grams, who lost her diamond ring 13 years ago while pulling weeds in her garden, is wearing it proudly again after her daughter-in-law pulled it from the ground on a misshapen carrot. Grams, 84, said she can't believe the vegetable actually grew through and around the diamond engagement ring she had given up for lost. [Iva Harberg/The Canadian Press via AP]
  4. Good luck finding solar eclipse glasses across Tampa Bay, U.S.


    Andi Figart pulled up to the New Port Richey Library on Thursday morning to an unusual sight.

    NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 11: Pairs of free solar eclipse glasses sit on display at a Warby Parker store  on August 11, 2017 in New York City. To view the upcoming total solar eclipse on August 21 eye protection is essential. The designer eyeglass store expects to give out thousands of pairs of the glasses before the event.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
  5. Republicans face primary in whirlwind special election for Plant City-area House seat


    PLANT CITY — With qualifying completed this week, the field is set in a whirlwind special election to replace state Rep. Dan Raulerson, R-Plant City — and the race could come down to two candidates in a Republican primary, Yvonne Fry and Lawrence McClure.

    Yvonne Fry is one of two Republican candidates with strong Plant City ties to quality for a special election in state House District 58.