Quinnipiac poll: Obama leads Romney in Florida, Bill Nelson ahead in Senate race

9:54 AM, Jun 21, 2012   |    comments
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TALLAHASSEE, Florida (AP) - U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson clings to a narrow 43-39 percent lead over Republican Connie Mack in a new poll on the state's U.S. Senate race, while Mack would run away with the GOP nomination if the election were today.

The new poll out Thursday from Quinnipiac University in Connecticut also shows President Barack Obama with a narrow 46-42 percent lead over Republican Mitt Romney in the presidential race.

"The projected November election between U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and Mack looks like it could go down to the wire," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, in a statement.

The close U.S. Senate race numbers follow a late May Quinnipiac poll that showed Mack and Nelson statistically tied.

Another Quinnipiac poll question found that Mack would run away with the GOP nomination, with no other Republican candidate getting more than 8 percent - and that second-best 8 percent was for George LeMieux, who announced Wednesday he's dropping out of the race, seeing it as unwinnable.

Nelson's job approval rating is at 47 percent, while 32 percent disapprove.

Women, young people, and African-Americans are driving Obama's hopes for winning for re-election, if the poll is an indication. Women liked Obama over Romney by a 49-39 percent margin in Florida, with black voters giving Obama a 91-5 percent lead and voters under 34 favoring Obama by 55-28 percent.

The coveted Hispanic vote, which is growing and thought to be up for grabs in many states, is Obama's to lose in Florida, according to the poll. Hispanic respondents chose Obama over Romney 49 percent to 39 percent.

Both Romney and Obama are making a heavy pitch to Hispanic voters this year - and both are scheduled to speak this week in Orlando at a national meeting of Latino elected officials.

The poll also reflected a shift among independent voters in presidential race. No party and minor party voters went 46-37 percent for Obama in this week's survey, compared to 44-36 percent for Romney in the same poll back in May.

"The president is doing better among independent voters," said Brown. "It also is worth noting that the last Quinnipiac University Florida poll was on the heels of the president's backing of gay marriage, which might have hurt him at that time.

The poll also comes as Obama has likely benefitted from an increasingly sunny economic situation in Florida, and efforts by the Republican Rick Scott administration to play up how much better the employment picture has gotten.

Who should get the credit for that, if anyone, is always a debatable question, and Bloomberg News reported Wednesday that the Romney campaign has asked the Florida governor to tone down the enthusiasm over the economy and start talking more about how much better it could be if Romney were elected instead of how much better it has gotten since Scott became governor.

The poll was taken June 12 - 18, surveyed 1,697 registered voters, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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