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Floridians back oil drilling; pollsters see opportunity for McCain

With gas prices hovering near $4 a gallon, a majority of Florida voters now support drilling for oil in protected areas offshore, according to a new poll.

The survey found 60 percent of respondents favor drilling, with 10 percent telling pollsters they had opposed offshore drilling in the past. Thirty-six percent of respondents said they remain opposed to offshore drilling.

The poll of 1,248 likely Florida voters was conducted July 23-29 by Quinnipiac University. The margin of error: 2.8 percentage points. The poll also suggests Barack Obama and John McCain virtually tied in the key swing state, with McCain narrowing the gap since June.

Obama has a 46 percent lead to McCain's 44 percent, compared to a 47 to 43 percent lead for Obama in June.

Pollsters suggest oil drilling could be an opportunity for McCain, who in June reversed course, saying he would support lifting a two-decade old offshore drilling ban that prevents exploration off most of the nation's coastline. Obama has opposed the measure, saying it would do nothing to affect gas prices.