Romney described them as victims who would vote for Obama and want handouts. He later said the remarks were off the cuff and not elegantly stated.
The incident came a week after Romney took a hit in a national poll for the way he criticized Obamas handling of Middle East violence on Sept. 11.
But Florida voters seemed to take it all in stride.
We had this swirl of coverage over the last couple of weeks, and it doesnt seem to have made a real impact with average voters, Coker said. The talking class and the analysts and the inside-the-Beltway-bubble people all think this stuff is big and important. I guess the voters dont think its all that much important.
Heres what they care about: the economy.
And on that point, theyre evenly split.
Asked whos more trustworthy on the economy, they tied. Romney has made the economic tough times under the president central to his campaign.
That probably is the one result in here thats a bit worrisome if I were the Romney camp, Coker said. Romneys got to build a margin on that economy question.
About 45 percent of likely voters believe the economy in Florida is stable, while 32 percent say its improving. A fifth says its worsening.
More than two-thirds say Obama bears at least some blame for the shape of the economy; 31 percent say hes not.
On the presidents overall job performance, voters are almost equally divided. A majority thinks the countrys on the wrong track.
Democrats and independents are more likely than not to believe the economy is improving. Only Republicans are more likely to believe its getting worse.
Women are far more likely than men to believe the economy is getting better and are more likely than men to support Obama. Men are more likely to believe the economy is worsening and back Romney in bigger numbers than they back Obama.
Obamas biggest strength: African-Americans, who back him with more than 90 percent of the vote, and young voters (ages 18-34), who support the president by double digits.
Among young voters, Obamas support has improved somewhat more than Romneys since July. The presidents campaign has barnstormed colleges and talked up the need for making college more affordable, while noting Romney might cut federal support.
Seniors, however, seem to favor Romney more than Obama, and seniors are more likely to vote than younger people.
Non-Hispanic white voters also back Romney by a 15-point margin, the poll suggests. Thats significant in a state where they account for two-thirds of the registered voters and tend to cast ballots in disproportionately higher numbers than, say, Hispanic voters, who comprise 14 percent of the active voter rolls.
Obama leads Romney among Hispanic voters by 9 points. But, because of the relatively small sample size of Hispanic voters two-thirds of whom were polled in Spanish the lead could fluctuate. Other polls show Obama with about a 20-point edge among Hispanic voters.
Still, many pollsters including Democrats say thats not enough to make up for Obamas poor showing with non-Hispanic whites.
Obamas lead among Hispanic voters is smaller in Florida than in other Hispanic-heavy battleground states because of the presence of Cuban-Americans. They tend to vote Republican and account for about 70 percent of the registered Republicans in Miami-Dade, the states largest county.