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Obama Faces Headwinds in Florida

Obama Faces Headwinds in Florida

By Kyle Adams - August 4, 2011


In the wake of the deal to raise the federal debt ceiling, President Obama faces an uphill battle in the key swing state of Florida, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll.

Half of the Florida voters surveyed after congressional leaders and the president reached a deal to raise the debt ceiling say Obama does not deserve to be re-elected, while 42 percent say he does deserve another four years in the White House. Before the deal was announced, the split was 47-46 in favor of the president's re-election.

Additionally, 51 percent of voters disapprove of the job the president is doing (compared to 50 percent before the agreement was announced), while 44 percent approve.

Still, despite his waning approval ratings in the state, the president leads all but one of his GOP challengers in hypothetical head-to-head general election matchups. He is deadlocked at 44 percent with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Before the debt ceiling deal, he led Romney, 46-41. He leads Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, 50 percent to 38 percent (50-36 before the deal) and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, 53 percent to 34 percent (54-33 before the deal). His 13-point lead over Texas Gov. Rick Perry before the agreement dropped to a five-point lead, 44-39, afterward.

Notably, independent voters turned sharply against Obama in matchups with Romney and Perry in the wake of the contentious debt ceiling negotiations. Before the deal, Obama edged Romney among independents, 38-37. Afterward, however, independent voters swung for Romney by a 14-point margin (46-32). Similarly, the president led Perry among independents, 48-28, before the deal. But afterward Perry took the crucial voter group, 39-35.

Compounding the president's problems in a state he won over John McCain by three points in 2008, 52 percent now say they don't like the president's policies (compared to 48 before the deal was announced). This includes 59 percent of independent voters.

Still, 73 percent of voters say they like the president as a person (up from 69 percent before the debt ceiling deal). Another piece of good news for the president is that by a 48-33 margin voters say the president acted more responsibly than Republicans in the negotiations.

In addition to being a crucial swing state in the general election, Florida will be a key -- maybe even decisive -- state in the race for the Republican nomination.

The Quinnipiac poll shows Romney leading the GOP field with 23 percent support. Perry, who is expected to announce his candidacy this month, sits in second with 13 percent. Palin (who also has not said if she will run) and Texas Rep. Ron Paul tie for third with 9 percent, businessman Herman Cain comes in at 8 percent, Bachmann follows with 6 percent, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has 4 percent, and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has 3 percent. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum round out the field with 1 percent apiece.

For this poll, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,417 registered Florida voters from July 27-Aug. 2, including 674 from July 27-31 and 743 from Aug. 1-2. The sample of 674 has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percent, and the sample of 743 has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percent. The sample of 510 Republicans has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percent.

Kyle Adams can be reached at kadams@realclearpolitics.com.

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