Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has moved into a lead over President Barack Obama in the crucial swing state of Florida, a new poll shows.
Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, was preferred by 47 percent to Obama's 41 percent among a random telephone survey of 1,722 registered Florida voters conducted between May 15 and May 21 by the Quinnipiac University (Conn.) Polling Institute. The margin of error in the newest sampling of current voter preferences was put at plus or minus 2.4 percentage points.
The two men were virtually deadlocked in a similar Quinnipiac survey conducted in the last week of April. Obama led Romney by 7 percentage points among Florida voters in late March.
"The overall picture in Florida is favorable for Romney," pollster Peter Brown said.
The one-time governor and former investment firm manager was seen favorably by 45 percent of Florida voters compared to a 35 percent unfavorable, while Obama also had a 45 percent favorable, but a 50 percent unfavorable despite a 76 percent likeability response. Romney enjoyed broad support among men and older voters while the president had strong backing among minorities and younger voters. Women voters in Florida were split almost evenly.
Fifty-two percent said they do not approve of Obama's handling of the presidency and that he does not deserve a second term while 50 percent said they believed Romney would do a better job managing the economy, which is presently seen as the pivotal issue in the 2012 race.
The survey released early Wednesday indicated that having U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Miami on the GOP ticket with Romney would have a slight effect among Florida voter. Romney led Obama 49 percent to 41 percent with Rubio as his running mate.
The candidates' opposing views on same sex marriage was a factor with one-third of the respondents and 22 percent identified the issue as "extremely important." By better than a two-to-one margin those who found the issue important said it would make them less likely to vote for Obama, who supports same-sex marriages. Romney is opposed to same-sex marriage.
"While the issue of same-sex marriage looks like it affects only one-third of Florida voters, we know from experience what a few votes can mean in the Sunshine State," Brown said.
Republican George W. Bush was elected president in 2000 on the strength of a 537-vote advantage in Florida over Democrat Al Gore.
No candidate has won the presidency since John F. Kennedy in 1960 without carrying two of the nation's three key swing states - Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Obama won all three in his 2008 victory over Republican nominee John McCain, winning Florida by nearly a quarter million votes. The nation's fourth largest state, Florida, provides 29 of the required 270 electoral votes needed to win.