A proposal to ban gay marriage in the Florida Constitution is within striking distance of success, according to a new poll.
The St. Petersburg Times/Bay News 9 survey shows 58 percent of voters approve the proposal to define marriage as between a man and woman.
The poll, which was also underwritten by the Miami Herald, has a margin of error of 3.5 percent, meaning Amendment 2 has a shot at getting the 60 percent required to amend the state Constitution.
The poll showed 37 percent oppose the measure and 5 percent are undecided.
The new poll shows a slight increase over one conducted Sept. 2-4 by Quinnipiac University Polling Institute that showed 55 percent approval and a 2.6 percent margin of error.
The new poll comes as proponents launched an aggressive campaign to spread the word through church congregations.
"From the foundations of this earth, that's what God made it to be, between a man and a woman," said Joyce Payne, 68, a Temple Terrace Republican who participated in the poll. "I'm sorry it's even coming to a vote. These homosexual rights are just being forced on us."
But the proposed ban — similar to a current state law — is not certain to pass given the 60 percent threshold, which voters approved in 2006, at the Legislature's urging, to keep frivolous measures out of the state Constitution.
"When I was younger, I would have been for the ban," said Victor Collazo, 35, an independent voter in Orlando. "I'm Catholic, and I know what the Bible says, but sometimes you just have to change. People have rights."
Support among Republicans was an overwhelming 74 percent, while only 44 percent of Democrats want the ban. Independents are nearly divided. But in a year when there is the first African-American major party candidate on the presidential ballot, 65 percent of black poll respondents said they would vote for Amendment 2.
Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway is "somewhat optimistic" about passage, and notes that it enjoys majority support among a broad array of voter groups. She said the current economic turmoil makes voters more likely to support the status quo on cultural matters, which would mean voting for the amendment. "With the economy and so much uncertainty, people often don't want to say yes."