Brace yourselves for another nail-biter presidential election in Florida.
A new Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald/Bay News 9 poll finds Barack Obama and Mitt Romney essentially tied in America’s biggest battleground state, with 46 percent of likely Florida voters supporting the president, 45 percent backing the former Massachusetts governor, and 2 percent behind Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. Only 7 percent are undecided.
“A coin toss,” Mason-Dixon pollster Brad Coker said. “Typical Florida.”
Adding Republican Sen. Marco Rubio to the Romney ticket would only marginally help Romney in must-win Florida. A Romney-Rubio ticket leads Obama-Joe Biden 46 percent to 45 percent in Florida.
Dig into the numbers, and what’s most surprising is that Obama is at all competitive with Romney:
• 54 percent of likely Florida voters say the country is on the “wrong track” with Obama at the helm.
• Only 35 percent believe his policies have improved the economy, while 41 percent say they have made it worse.
• 46 percent of voters approve of the president’s job performance, while 50 percent disapprove.
• 52 percent oppose the healthcare overhaul — Obama’s signature achievement recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court — and 50 percent of Florida voters want to see it repealed.
“I own a small business and my husband and I are doing fine. We’re okay, but the future of this economy worries us a lot,” said Miami businesswoman Doris Del Toro, 52, a Cuban-American independent who voted for Obama four years ago and is undecided this year. “I’m just not happy with what Obama has done. He’s moved way too far to the left. He spent too much time on healthcare when the economy should have been his priority.”
The telephone survey of 800 registered Florida voters — all likely to vote in the November general election — was conducted July 9-11 for The Miami Herald, Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald, Tampa Bay Times, Bay News 9 and Central Florida News 13. The poll was conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research, a nonpartisan, Jacksonville-based company. The margin of error is 3.5 percentage points.
The bad news for Romney? It’s virtually impossible for him to win the presidency without Florida’s 29 electoral votes, and the poll shows he has lots of work to do in the Sunshine State over the next four months. Polls throughout the year have consistently shown a tight race in Florida, though the January Mason-Dixon poll found Romney leading Obama by four percentage points.
In the current poll, crucial independent voters prefer Obama to Romney, 46 percent to 41 percent. While Romney leads comfortably among men in Florida, Obama has a 14-point lead among women.
Nor is Romney’s business background — the centerpiece of his campaign — overwhelmingly positive to Florida voters.
Forty-seven percent said his business background gives him the skills to better manage the government and improve the economy. But 38 percent agreed with the statement that “he is more concerned with making money and his practices in many instances have unnecessarily cost people their jobs in order to earn profits.”
The Obama campaign and its allies have run ads in Florida attacking Romney’s record as a venture capitalist at Bain Capital, and Romney late last week responded by airing ads in Florida blasting Obama for misleading attacks on that Bain record.