Romney’s strengths: independent voters and more crossover support from Democrats relative to the Republicans who back Obama, according to the survey conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research.
Romney’s crossover appeal is fueled by strong support in rural North Florida, a conservative bastion where a relatively high percentage of Democrats often vote Republican in presidential election years.
“I’m pretty convinced Romney’s going to win Florida,” said Mason-Dixon pollster Brad Coker, who conducted the 800-likely voter survey from Tuesday through Thursday.
“Will it be fivepoints? Maybe. Will it be three points? Possibly,” Coker said, of what he expects Romney’s margin will be. “I don’t think it’s going to be a recount … I don’t think we’re going to have a recount-race here.”
Romney is winning handily among men, marginally losing with women voters and has outsized support among non-Hispanic whites. He’s essentially winning on the issues as well: the economy, Medicare, foreign policy and looking out for the middle-class.
Coker noted the poll results are essentially unchanged from last month, when Romney led by a point more after he crushed Obama in their first debate.
The October poll and this one, which have error margins of 3.5 percent, were conducted for The Miami Herald/El Nuevo Herald as well as the Tampa Bay Times, Bay News 9 and Central Florida News 13.
Although the latest survey shows Romney comfortably ahead 51-45 percent in Florida, the Republican can’t rest easy. Other polls show a tighter race, although they use a different method of polling than that of Mason-Dixon, a Florida-based firm.
Obama’s campaign has been turning voters out in force during the eight-day, in-person early-voting period that ends Saturday at 7p.m.
The voting is heaviest in liberal Southeast Florida, where Obama hopes to juice up urban turnout in a Sunday visit to Hollywood where he’ll be joined by Miami rapper Pitbull.
Meantime, the Obama campaign has successfully fought to close the traditional lead held by Republicans when it comes to absentee ballots, which are typically cast by mail.
Add all the absentee and in-person early-vote numbers together, and Democratic voters cast 76,000 more early ballots than Republicans as of Friday morning.
Across Florida, registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by 4.5 percentage points — about the same margin as the proportion of respondents in this poll.
Most early voters are among the most partisan and politically active, and are more likely to vote the party line. But the poll indicates that Obama isn’t winning the combined absentee and early in-person vote, though he’s doing worse when it comes to the mail-in ballots.
“Obama’s strategy in Florida is turnout, turnout, turnout. He’s not really tailoring or changing his message just for Florida,” Coker said. He said first lady Michelle Obama, who came to Florida on Thursday, delivered a message that he summed up as: “Get all your friends, get out and vote … get out the vote, get out the vote, get out the vote.”
But not all Democratic votes go to Obama and not all of the Republican votes accrue to Romney, the poll shows.