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Obama Opens Up Wider Florida Lead In New Poll

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President Barack Obama & Gov. Mitt Romney (Source: CBS4)

President Barack Obama & Gov. Mitt Romney (Source: CBS4)

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campaign 2012 new2 Obama Opens Up Wider Florida Lead In New Poll

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) — President Obama has opened up a wider lead over Republican challenger Mitt Romney among Florida voters, a new poll released Wednesday by Quinnipiac University found.

Obama leads Romney 53-44 percent in the new Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News, compared to a much slimmer 49-46 margin in a poll taken Aug. 23 before either party had held its nominating convention.

The survey also gauged the electorate in two other swing states, Ohio and Pennsylvania, and found the president opening up wider leads there as well. Obama was the leader in Ohio 53-43 percent and 54-42 percent in Pennsylvania in the survey of likely voters.

The poll, taken Sept. 18-24, surveyed 1,196 Florida likely voters, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percent.

It came on the heels of some remarks Romney had made about the electorate earlier in the year being made public. In the recorded remarks, Romney said he wouldn’t ever be able to get the votes of 47 percent of the population, which, he said, viewed government help as an entitlement that they wouldn’t give up, and implying that people who don’t pay income tax – about half of Americans – were the same part of the population, and wanted to keep it that way.

Romney “had a bad week in the media and it shows in these key swing states,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “The furor over his 47 percent remark almost certainly is a major factor in the roughly double-digit leads Obama has in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The debates may be Romney’s best chance to reverse the trend in his favor.

“The wide difference between the two candidates is not just a result of Romney’s bad week,” Brown continued. “In Ohio and Florida votes are basically split down the middle on whether the country and they and their families are worse or better off than they were four years ago. If voters don’t think they are worse off, it is difficult to see them throwing out an incumbent whose personal ratings with voters remain quite high.”

Women polled in Florida backed Obama 58-39 percent, while men were a closer split, liking Romney by a 50-47 percent margin. Obama leads among Florida Hispanic voters 58-39 percent. Among crucial independents, whom Romney has made his main target, however, he is leading, 49 to 46 percent in Florida.

Slightly over half of Florida voters say they’re either very confident or somewhat confident in Obama’s decision making on the Middle East, well ahead of the 46 percent who say that about Romney.

Quinnipiac also polled Florida’s U.S. Senate race and found Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson leading Republican challenger and U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, 53-39 percent. Gov. Rick Scott continues to have a higher disapproval rating than approval, with 48 percent of those polled saying they disapprove of the job he’s doing, compared to 38 percent who approve.

The poll also gauged the popularity of former Gov. Charlie Crist, who has been rumored as a possible future candidate. His favorability was split 40-40 with the rest undecided.

“The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.”

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