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Miami Herald poll: Obama 48%-Romney 47%. And why either can win

President Obama and Mitt Romney are locked in a virtual tie in Florida, according to a Miami Herald/El Nuevo Herald/Tampa Bay Times poll that indicates the Democrats’ convention buzz and the Republican’s recent troubles haven’t altered the race in this biggest of battleground states.

Obama is drawing 48 percent support to Romney’s 47 percent among likely voters — a lead well within the poll’s 3.5 percent error margin. Only 4 percent are undecided.

“Despite what some people have tried to claim, this race is still close in Florida,” said Brad Coker, who conducted the Mason-Dixon Polling & Research survey. “It’s very much a toss-up.”

Obama has fought Romney to a standstill over who’s more trustworthy when it comes to the economy. But 51 percent say they’re not better off than they were four years ago, while 41 percent say they are.

The president is also up by 6 percentage points when it comes to foreign policy — even after the attacks on a Middle East embassy and consulate that left four Americans dead.

But Romney has basically pulled even with Obama over managing Medicare, a traditional Democratic strength.

Obama is winning the Hispanic vote. But Democrats fret his margin might not be enough to counterbalance the white voters who favor Romney by double digits.

Obama, however, could have a crucial edge: the support of independent voters, who often decide elections in swing-state Florida. Independents back the president by 11 percentage points more than Romney. That’s a six-point shift since the last Mason-Dixon poll in July.

“Obama seemed to pick up some independent voters. That’s where Romney slipped a little bit,” Coker said.

Each candidate has strong support from his respective party, although Romney has slightly more Republican backing compared to the percentage of Democrats favoring Obama.

The relatively stronger internal party support could prove pivotal for Romney. If the same proportion of Republicans, Democrats and independents cast ballots in 2012 compared to 2008 — a high watermark for Democrats — Romney could have the edge on Election Day, the poll indicates.

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