Yolanda Sultan of Tampa, a retired human resources manager and Democrat, said she has taken notice of the anti-Bain ads.
“If it’s the truth, it’s like wow. When I heard some of the things that he supposedly has done, it’s amazing that he thinks he can bankrupt those companies and he can make all that money for himself and run a country that way,” she said.
Florida voters have a more favorable than negative view of Romney’s record, but Coker said the Democratic TV spots still appear to be taking a toll on Romney’s image.
“For him to make that the centerpiece of his campaign, particularly the business background, I think he’s got to make that gap [between favorable and unfavorable views] bigger over time,” Coker said.
Janelle Jenkins, a 34-year-old Miami Democrat who works in financial services, is not especially bothered by Romney’s business career, but said he appears out of touch with ordinary Americans.
“I don’t agree with his policies, especially his position on Planned Parenthood. His tax plan, I also don’t agree with,” she said, suggesting that Romney appears to be offering little to middle-class or lower-class voters. “His comments are more targeted with the upper level. I don’t see him even connecting with his peers.”
Romney’s net worth is estimated at more than $200 million. Forty-six percent of Florida voters said that wealth is a sign of success that can inspire people, while 39 percent said it makes him out of touch with average people.
The multi-million dollar TV ad wars have been concentrated in the Tampa Bay and Orlando media markets, and the poll underscores why.
Obama leads Romney by 24 points in Southeast Florida, Romney leads by 21 in conservative North Florida, and the two are essentially tied in Tampa Bay and the Central Florida area stretching from Daytona Beach and Melbourne across the state to Citrus County.
Among all the politicians included in the poll, Sen. Rubio is far and away the most popular, with 51 percent having a favorable view of him and only 19 percent viewing him unfavorably. That compares to Obama, who is viewed favorably by 44 percent and unfavorably by 41 percent, and Romney, viewed favorably by 37 percent and unfavorably by 33 percent.
Port Orange retiree Helen Ahern, a Democrat, expects to vote for Obama but is a Rubio fan.
“He is an everyday person. He knows what it’s like to raise a family. He knows what it’s like to be a minority in the system. And I just think that he’s not a toe-the-line conservative,” said Ahern. “If he is the vice presidential running mate of Mitt Romney, I will have to think long and hard about continuing to vote for Obama.”
Still, the poll does little to bolster the case for Rubio being a strong political pick for Romney, who has said the first-term senator is under serious consideration.
Adding Rubio to the ticket cuts Obama’s lead among Florida Hispanic voters only to 44 percent for Romney and 43 percent for Obama. (Without considering Rubio, Obama leads among Hispanic voters, 49 percent to 42 percent.)
But overall the contest remains essentially deadlocked with or without Marco Rubio as the vice presidential nominee.
“It’s questionable whether he can deliver the state,” Coker said. “If he doesn’t really help much in Florida, what benefit is he going be anywhere else?”
Herald/Times staff writers Katie Sanders and Michael Van Stickler contributed to this report.