Poll: Obama, Nelson leading in Florida

Washington Post, Quinnipiac/CBS/New York Times polls show pesident ahead

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President Barack Obama arrives in Jacksonville aboard Air Force One earlier this year, accompanied by Florida Sen. Bill Nelson and U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw.

The two latest polls among likely Florida voters show President Barack Obama opening up a wider lead over Republican challenger Mitt Romney in Florida.

A Washington Post poll released Tuesday afternoon found Obama leading Romney by a margin of 51 to 47 percent among likely voters in Florida. While that margin is not statistically significant, Romney needs to win in Florida, especially as another new Washington Post poll shows Obama leading in Ohio by 52 to 44 percent.

Florida and Ohio are among the most-critical swing states in the election.

Wednesday morning, Quinnipiac University's poll showed Obama with a slightly wider lead: 53 to 44 percent among likely Florida voters.

The polls come on the heels of some remarks Romney had made about the electorate earlier in the year being made public. In the recorded remarks, Romney said he wouldn't ever be able to get the votes of 47 percent of the population, which, he said, viewed government help as an entitlement that they wouldn't give up, and implying that people who don't pay income tax – about half of Americans –- were the same part of the population, and wanted to keep it that way.

Romney "had a bad week in the media and it shows in these key swing states," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "The furor over his 47 percent remark almost certainly is a major factor in the roughly double-digit leads … Obama has in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The debates may be Romney's best chance to reverse the trend in his favor.

The Post reported that Obama is benefiting in Florida from a double-digit lead among women voters --- though Romney leads among men. The newspaper reported that Florida voters, by a 60 to 35 percent margin, say they trust Obama more than Romney to advance the interests of the middle class.

Also, Florida voters say Obama is more likely to empathize with people's economic problems.

Poll shows Senate incumbent with commanding lead over challenger

The Washington Post poll also found incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson with a commanding lead in his re-election bid against Republican U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV.

According to the poll, 54 percent of likely voters said they would vote for Nelson, while 40 percent said they would support Mack. Nelson leads in most regions of the state, including a 49-43 edge in the Orlando area, a 56-41 advantage in the Tampa Bay region and a 67-25 lead in the Miami area. Mack leads in north Florida and the south-central area of the state.

Only 8 percent of likely voters said there was a good chance they would change their votes, while 78 percent said they would definitely vote for their candidate.

The negative publicity about Mack's past might be hurting him; 41 percent of likely votes say they have a favorable view of the challenger, while 45 percent say they have an unfavorable view.

Mack's campaign manager Jeff Cohen questioned the sample of the poll, saying national pollsters commissioner by national news organizations "have attempted to paint the Florida Senate race in a light that is simply not accurate.

"Some media outlets and Democrat-affiliated pollsters have released polls based on highly questionable Party Identification models that can serve no other purpose than to attempt to sway public opinion and voter enthusiasm," Cohen wrote.

Mack's own poll does show the Republican trailing by 5.4 percent, but that is up 8 points since the first poll taken after the Florida primary and 60 percent of undecided voters indicate they are leaning toward voting for Mack.

"The state of this race is clear -- if Mitt Romney wins Connie wins. If Connie wins Mitt Romney wins," Cohen said.

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