Obama Ahead, but Has Tepid Support in Florida

Posted June 24, 2011 at 3:28pm

President Barack Obama has lukewarm approval in the key swing state of Florida, but is ahead of likely Republican challengers, according to a new poll.

Forty-nine percent of Floridians disapprove of the president’s job performance, while 48 percent approve, a survey released Friday by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling found. In a presidential matchup with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Obama led 47 percent to 43 percent. In a matchup with former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Obama was ahead 48 percent to 40 percent. About 10 percent of those polled were undecided.

Democratic consultant Steve Schale, who ran Obama’s campaign in Florida in 2008, said the “poll signifies what everybody already knows to be true: Florida’s a hyper-competitive state.”

While noting that polls are “mostly for sport and fun” at this point in the cycle, Schale said even 17 months out it is clear that, “Florida’s going to be a state that somebody is going to win by inside of two points in November 2012 and that’s just the way it is.”

In 2008, Obama carried Florida by only 236,450 votes out of more than eight million cast. The president garnered 51 percent of the vote to Sen. John McCain’s 48 percent.

Florida Republicans expect the Obama campaign to spend $100 million in the Sunshine State over the course of the cycle. Florida has 10 media markets and can be an extremely expensive state to run ads in. In one week in October of 2008, the Obama campaign spent about $4.6 million on Florida television ads, according to one report.

Schale said it is far too early for candidates to begin to think about spending money in the state. “Most voters right now are worried about getting their kids to camp or figuring out how to find a job or taking care of a parent. This is not the time that average, regular voters are paying attention,” he said. Schale expects both Republicans and Democrats to begin spending significant amounts money in about a year.

The PPP automated telephone survey of 848 Florida voters had a margin of error of 3.4 points.