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Q Poll FL: Obama 51%-Romney 45%; Nelson 47%-Mack 40%

Quinnipiac has joined up with the New York Times and CBS to poll Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. President Obama leads in all three, according to the latest survey. But there are issues (read below)**

The write-up for Florida:

Obama 51 – Romney 45

Obama leads 51 – 44 percent among women likely voters in Florida while men go 50 percent for the Democrat and 46 percent for the Republican.

Both candidates run strong among their own party’s voters while independent voters split with 47 percent for Obama and 46 percent for Romney. Among likely voters backing Obama, 65 percent strongly favor him while 24 percent like him with reservations and 10 percent say they pick Obama out of dislike for Romney. Among Romney voters, 49 percent strongly favor him while 29 percent like him with reservations and 19 percent say they are voting against Obama.

Obama gets a 50 – 46 percent favorability rating, while Romney gets a split 41 – 42 percent score. The economy is the most important issue in the election for 52 percent of Florida voters, with 22 percent who pick health care and 9 percent who cite the budget deficit. Romney would do a better job on the economy, 47 percent of Florida likely voters say, while 45 percent pick Obama.

Obama is better on health care, voters say 50 – 42 percent. If Obama is reelected, his economic policies will hurt rather than help their financial situation, Florida voters say 38 – 23 percent, with 36 percent saying it won’t matter. Romney gets a 31 – 30 percent split on whether he will help or hurt, with 34 percent saying no difference. Presidential candidates should release several years of tax returns, 53 percent of voters say; 19 percent want to see one or two years of returns and 23 percent say don’t release returns.

In Florida’s U.S. Senate race, Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson leads U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, the Republican challenger 47 – 40 percent. Independent voters go 43 percent for Mack and 40 percent for Nelson. Florida voters disapprove 52 – 36 percent of the job Gov. Rick Scott is doing. “One of the few positives for Romney in Florida is that voters are split on whether his election would help or hurt their pocketbook, but by 38 – 23 percent they say the president’s re-election would leave their wallets thinner,’ Brown said.

** Note: Republicans are sure to point out that, in Florida, the demographic breakdown skews heavily independent (32%) and could under-represent Republicans (27%). And Democrats accounting for 35% of respondents, their number is low as well. But Democrats won't complain this time because their guy is winning.

Still, there's a legitimate concern here that won't go away because of Quinnipiac's methodoloy, which is fine for national polls or polls in states that don't have easily accessible voter-registration data and like like Florida. Because this is a likely voter survey, most pollsters who survey Florida say that the partisan breakdown should more accurately reflect what the likely ballot-casting electorate would look like by their actual registration. So, the breakdown really should be closer to a breakdown of Democrat (42-43%), Republican 39-41%, independent 18-21%), they say. Background on Quinnipiac's methodology is here (note: this discussed a registered voter poll, not a likely voter poll).

Still, the numbers mean something and they show Obama's doing well, especially compared to the last Quinnipiac polls. Because independents split 47-46 Obama, there's a high chance the president is slightly leading Romney in Florida anyway. The question is: How much? (The Senate race is more of a toss-up, with Bill Nelson under 50 and Connie Mack slightly ahead with independents.