Barack Obama has opened up a 49-42 percent lead over John McCain in Florida, according to a new Miami Herald poll showing the Democrat earns high marks on the economy and is strongly attracting the swing voters who decide elections in the nation's largest swing state.
Boosting Obama: independent voters, who back him over McCain by a 57-22 percent margin -- a 38 point shift toward the Democrat since the last poll in September, which was also conducted for The Miami Herald, St. Petersburg Times and Bay News 9 by SEA Polling and Strategic Design and The Polling Co.
The poll of 800 registered voters has an error margin of 3.5 percentage points, and reveals multiple hurdles in McCain's way:
• He is losing in Southwest Florida, a once-reliable Republican base. And he's ahead in only one region, conservative North Florida -- and only by 7 percentage points.
• Obama has tied McCain among voters over 65 years old. They backed McCain by 7 more percentage points than Obama in last month's poll, which was taken just as news of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy precipitated the economic crisis.
• And only 35 percent of Floridians say McCain demonstrated more leadership during the crisis and has a better plan to fix it. Compare that to the 45 percent who say Obama demonstrated better leadership and the 49 percent who say Obama has a better plan to fix the economy.