President Barack Obama leads Republican Mitt Romney by 3 points (46 percent to 43 percent, with 7 percent undecided), according to a Suffolk University/7NEWS (WSVN-Miami) poll of likely voters in Florida. The poll is well within the survey’s 4 percent margin of error.
“On the eve of the first debate, both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney know the importance of each percentage point in a state like Florida,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. "Not only are the remaining undecided voters critical, but so are the voters of all the third-party candidates here – and there are many.”
The Suffolk University/7NEWS (WSVN-Miami) poll is the first Florida survey taken this year to include all 12 of the Presidential party candidates who qualified for the Florida ballot.
Libertarian Gary Johnson, Green Party nominee Jill Stein, and Peace and Freedom Party nominee Roseanne Barr were each favored by 1 percent of voters polled. One or more voters, but less than 1 percent, chose Peta Lindsay (Party for Socialism and Liberation), Tom Hoefling (American Independent Party), or Ross C. “Rocky” Anderson (Justice Party of Florida).
U.S. Senate race
In the Florida race for U.S. Senate, the incumbent, Democrat Bill Nelson (40 percent) led Republican Connie Mack (34 percent), with Chris Borgia at 4 percent and Bill Gaylor at 1 percent. Twenty percent of Florida voters remained undecided in that race.
In a recurring Florida church-state issue, 52 percent of voters opposed a proposed amendment that would give users of public services the option to spend those public dollars at a religious institution, while 28 percent supported the amendment.
Meanwhile 75 percent of voters supported an amendment that would allow for property tax discounts for disabled veterans, even if they weren’t Florida residents when they entered the military, while 13 percent were against it.
The abortion issue split voters, with 44 percent supporting an amendment that would prohibit the use of public funds for abortions or health benefits coverage that includes coverage for abortion, with exceptions for cases of rape, incest or if the mother’s life were in danger. Forty percent opposed the amendment, and 15 percent were undecided.
Favorability in presidential race
Romney continues to struggle with his likability. His 45 percent favorable rating is 3 points higher than in a survey the Suffolk University Political Research Center conducted in May; yet his unfavorable rating is also up 2 points, to 47 percent today.
Obama has been consistently more popular, with a 51 percent favorable and 46 percent unfavorable rating.
High expectations for Obama in Debates
Floridians appear to expect that the upcoming debates will be no contest, with 52 percent of likely voters saying Obama is the better debater, 19 percent saying Romney will prevail, and 26 percent undecided.
“This ‘debate expectations’ finding mirrors last Thursday’s Suffolk University poll of likely Virginia voters who also said Obama was a better debater by more than a two-to-one margin. Voters in these key battleground states are teeing up an opportunity for Mitt Romney to exceed low expectations and close the gap. But if Barack Obama lives up to his billing, he could put the race away,” said Paleologos.
The statewide survey of 600 registered Florida voters was conducted Sept. 27-30, 2012, using live telephone interviews of landline and cell phone users. The margin of error is +/-4 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. Marginals and full cross-tabulation data will be posted at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012, on the Suffolk University Political Research Center Web site. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310, or follow on Twitter @davidpaleologos.