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FL voters say Barack Obama doesn't deserve a second term, prefer Mitt Romney

From Quinnipiac University: **Updated note: A Democratic pollster makes a compelling argument that this poll might over-survey Republicans and under-survey Democrats in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 500,000.

Election Year opens in Florida with the two top races too close to call, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

The top Republican presidential challenger, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, has 46 percent of registered voters to President Barack Obama’s 43 percent.  If former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum gets the GOP nomination, he scores 43 percent to President Obama’s 45 percent, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds.

In Florida’s U.S. Senate race, Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson has 41 percent, with 40 percent for his leading Republican challenger, U.S. Rep. Connie Mack. 

The president has a solidly negative 42 – 54 percent job approval rating and Florida voters say 52 – 44 percent that he does not deserve a second term in the Oval Office.

“Florida is among the most important swing states in the country and if the election was today President Barack Obama would have difficulty winning its electoral votes,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. 

“But the election isn’t for 10 more months so he has plenty of time to turn things around.  Nevertheless, President Obama needs to mend fences in the Sunshine State, especially among men, whites and those voters without college degrees. The difference among voters by age is especially striking.”

In his matchup with Romney, the president wins 84 percent of Democrats, 47 percent of independent voters and only 4 percent of Republicans.  By comparison, Romney takes 9 percent of Democrats.  The president carries women 46 – 41 percent, but loses men 52 – 40 percent, “a yawning gender gap,” said Brown.

The president carries voters 18 to 49 years old 51 – 39 percent, but loses 49 – 40 percent among voters 50 to 64 years old and loses 53 – 39 percent among voters over 65.

“The problem for Obama is that those over 50 make up 62 percent of the electorate, compared to the 35 percent who are under 50,” Brown added.

“In the matchup with Santorum, the president does slightly better across-the-board, which results in the overall dead-heat.  At this point Romney runs a bit better against Obama than does Santorum, but the former Pennsylvania senator isn’t nearly as well-known as either Romney or the president,” Brown said.

Florida voters give Santorum a 31 – 25 percent favorability rating, with 42 percent who don’t know enough about him to form an opinion.  He gets a 56 – 8 percent favorability from Republicans, with 35 percent who haven’t heard enough.  Romney gets a 47 – 29 percent favorability among all voters, with 74 – 14 percent among Republicans.

Obama has a negative 45 – 50 percent favorability among Florida voters.

In the U.S. Senate race, Congressman Mack gets 39 percent in the GOP primary, which is held in August.  Mike McCalister and former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux are way behind with 6 percent each.  No other candidate tops 2 percent.  Another 42 percent are undecided. 

“Connie Mack remains far ahead of the GOP field and there has been little movement since he entered the race late last year.  With four out of 10 GOP primary voters still undecided, nothing is certain, but one would much rather be in Mack’s shoes than any of the other GOP contenders,” Brown said.

Mack has a 32 – 13 percent favorability rating with 54 percent who don’t know enough about him.

Nelson has a 47 – 30 percent job approval rating and a 41 – 23 percent favorability rating. “Good but not great,” said Brown, “and voters say 44 – 35 percent he deserves another six years in the Senate.”

From January 4 – 8, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,412 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.6 percentage points.  Live interviewers call land lines and cell phones.