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Florida election update: voters thinking economy as they cast ballots. Romney likely ahead

Election Day has arrived in South Florida, and Republican voters are headed to the polls with two issues weighing heavily on their minds: the economy, and who has the greatest chance to defeat Barack Obama in the November presidential elections.

Candidates Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum are on the Republican primary ballot, though the election in Florida is expected to be a two-man race between Romney and Gingrich, with Romney ahead due to a weeks-long push for absentee and early votes.

Before the first Election Day ballot was cast, Mitt Romney already had a likely lead, perhaps 60,000 or higher thanks to early voting, as we discussed in this story here.

This morning, Public Policy Polling found Romney well ahead and leading early votes 45-32 over Gingrich. American Research Group found similar results, but a 51-29 Romney edge in early votes.

Still, people are still heading to the polls in Miami.

At the Belen Jesuit campus in West Miami-Dade, a Republican stronghold with about three times more registered Republicans than Democrats, Roger Cardenas, 41, voted for Romney.

“I don’t know if he can do everything he says he’ll do but he’s the only guy who can run against Obama,” said Cardenas, an electrician who came to South Florida from Cuba.

Rene Viera, a 64-year-old Westchester Realtor, said he voted for Gingrich because of the economy.

“The economy will be the hot topic,” he said. “The second issue will be, where is this country headed? The Obama administration wants to take us down the path to socialism and I think people will want off that bus.”

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