Romney, Cain Neck-and-Neck in Florida Poll

Romney, Cain Neck-and-Neck in Florida Poll

By Caitlin Huey-Burns - November 2, 2011

Mitt Romney and Herman Cain are running neck-and-neck in the battleground state of Florida, according to a Suffolk University poll that finished surveying voters the day a report on past harassment allegations against Cain was published.

The former Massachusetts governor attracts 25 percent of support from Sunshine State voters while Cain garners 24 percent. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich places third with 11 percent. The rest of the candidates poll in the single digits. Texas Gov. Rick Perry gets 9 percent; Rep. Ron Paul, 5 percent. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman earned 2 percent while Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum tie at the bottom of the ballot with 1 percent.

Florida swung for Barack Obama in 2008 after backing George W. Bush in the previous cycle, but the poll results show an uphill battle for the president this time around. Obama has an upside-down approval rating in the state: 41 percent approve of the job he is doing while 50 percent give him a poor grade. And a majority of voters feel the country is headed in the wrong direction.

Obama and Romney tie with 42 percent each in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup, while 10 percent of voters remain undecided. Obama holds a three-point edge over Cain, 42 percent to 39 percent. He leads Gingrich, 45 percent to 38 percent. The president surpasses Perry and Paul by 12 points each.

The poll also shows that the state's rising Republican star, freshman Sen. Marco Rubio, could enhance the GOP presidential ticket if he were on it. With Rubio as the vice presidential nominee, the unnamed Republican leads Obama, 46 percent to 41 percent.

Having Rubio on the ticket would secure Florida -- which, along with Ohio, is one of the two most important swing states to win, said David Paleologos, director of the Political Research Center at Boston's Suffolk University, in a statement released with the survey. That strength could translate to other states with large Hispanic populations, he said. A Rubio ticket gives Republicans a 53 percent to 33 percent lead over the Democratic ticket in Florida, for example.

If Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were on the Democratic ticket, however, the poll finds she and Obama would defeat a generic Republican candidate, 50 percent to 41 percent. And matched up against the Republican nominee and Rubio, Obama and Clinton lead, 46-43. Clinton has said that a run for vice president is "not in the realm of possibility."

For this poll, Suffolk surveyed 800 registered voters, including 278 Republicans, from Oct. 26-30. The sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. 

Caitlin Huey-Burns is a congressional reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @CHueyBurnsRCP.

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