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Romney Widens Lead Over Obama Among Voters in Florida

The biggest swing state is turning Mitt Romney’s way.

In three months of polling of Florida’s registered voters by Quinnipiac University, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has pulled ahead of President Barack Obama. A survey released today shows Romney leads Obama, 47 percent to 41 percent.

Obama led Romney, 49 percent to 42 percent, in a Quinnipiac poll released March 28. In a survey released May 3, Romney had 44 percent and Obama 43 percent, a statistical tie.

“The overall picture in Florida is positive for Romney,” said Peter Brown, assistant vice president of the Hamden, Connecticut-based Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, in part because of a gender gap aiding the Republican.

The poll shows men backing Romney over Obama 50 percent to 37 percent, while the president has a negligible advantage among women, 45 percent to 44 percent.

Among independent voters in the state, Romney is favored by 44 percent, Obama by 36 percent.

Gay Marriage

Twenty-five percent of those polled said they were less likely to support Obama after his May 9 announcement that he supports gay marriage, while 11 percent were more likely to re-elect him. Most polled said it made no difference.

“While the issue of same-sex marriage looks like it affects only one-third of Florida voters, we know from experience what a few votes can mean in the Sunshine State,” Brown said in a statement.

Then-Texas Governor George W. Bush’s 537-vote victory in Florida over Democrat Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election won the White House for the Republican.

Obama won Florida in 2008 over Republican John McCain by 2.8 percentage points. In the previous three presidential elections, the combined vote for Republican candidates was 10.9 million and 10.8 million for Democrats. The last Democrat to carry the state before Obama was then-President Bill Clinton in 1996.

Florida’s 29 electoral votes make it the biggest prize among the states both campaigns view as competitive in this year’s election. The state looms as especially important for Romney.

It was one of nine states that switched from the Republican column in Bush’s successful 2004 re-election campaign to Obama in 2008. If all other states run true to their 2004 and 2008 partisan preferences, Romney would still lose the White House if he carried eight of the swing states while being defeated in Florida.

Rubio Pick

The Quinnipiac poll shows the selection of Florida Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican elected in 2010, as Romney’s running mate would slightly improve the former Massachusetts governor’s chances in the state. With Rubio on the ticket, Romney leads Obama 49 percent to 41 percent in the poll.

Some Republicans are pushing for Romney to pick Rubio as a way to improve his showing among Latino voters in other states, as well as Florida.

The poll, conducted May 15-21, surveyed 1,722 registered voters with a margin of error of plus-or-minus 2.4 percentage points.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael C. Bender in Tallahassee at mbender10@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Merelman at smerelman@bloomberg.net

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