Cuban-Americans comprise about a third of the registered Hispanic voters, but they often vote in disproportionately higher numbers. Puerto Rican voters are more Democratic and are more clustered in Central Florida. There, the Obama campaign is reminding voters in a Spanish-language ad that Romney opposed the nomination of the first Puerto Rican to the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor.
Some Puerto Rican voters, like Javier Carmona, 31, of Oviedo, are Republican. But he said hes voting against Romney.
Romney doesnt have a brain, Carmona said. I was in the U.S. Army, and I believe in helping people out and serving my country. Romney doesnt. He thinks 47 percent of us dont count.
On the other end of the Republican spectrum is this from Roberto Perdz, 73, a Miami Cuban-American: Obama failed. He had four years, and it didnt do anything positive. Mitt Romney will bring change. He has a plan. Obama doesnt.
To gin up the Cuban vote, Romney has released a new Spanish-language ad featuring Florida Sen. Marco Rubio giving a testimonial about his Medicare bonafides. On Saturday, Romney also dispatched his running mate, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, to The Versailles restaurant, a focal point of the Cuban exile community. Ryan once favored lifting the Cuban embargo but has now pledged to be tough on the Castro dictatorship.
The selection of Ryan, who had proposed plans that cut back on future Medicare expenditures, also carried risks in senior-heavy Florida.
However, Republicans counteracted criticism of Ryans Medicare record by holding up the presidents Affordable Health Care Act. It remains deeply unpopular in Florida because it trimmed future Medicare expenses. Ryan, though, had twice voted to keep intact the very Medicare cuts he now bashes.
About 49 percent trust Obama to keep Medicare financially stable, compared to 47 percent for Romney a virtual tie.
Its the Obamacare factor, Coker said. Its almost the neutralizer with the traditional attack that the Democrats make on Medicare. The Republicans actually have a grenade to throw back at them, whereas in the past they havent.
Regionally, each candidate appears to have made successful forays into his opponents base, with Romney picking up a little extra support in liberal Southeast Florida. Obama did the same in conservative North Florida since the last poll in July.
Obama appears to have gained slightly more than Romney in Tampa Bay, the states bellwether region, in July.
That last poll was taken before the Republican and Democratic national conventions.
After the conventions, Romney didnt appear to receive a boost in the polls compared to Obama.
But Obamas bounce appears to have started to subside amid mediocre unemployment figures, home-foreclosure troubles and the grim news overseas.
The Gallup poll shows that, nationally, Obama and Romney are tied at 47 percent each. This Florida poll shows much the same result, a sign of how much the Sunshine State reflects the nation.
Because of the vagaries of the Electoral College system, Romney needs to win Florida. If he doesnt, hell lose his bid to unseat Obama, whos running stronger in swing states like Ohio and Virginia, where other surveys indicate that voters are more sanguine about the economy.
Were a toss-up state, Coker said. We were a toss-up state last time. We were a toss-up state eight years ago. We were a toss-up state 12 years ago. Theres absolutely no reason we shouldnt be a toss-up state now.