President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney are running neck-and-neck in vote-rich Florida, according to a new Mason-Dixon poll released on Saturday.
Obama leads Romney in the poll, 46 percent to 45 percent, well within the poll's margin of error. Two percent of likely voters say they would vote for former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, who initially sought the Republican nomination but now intends to run as a Libertarian. Seven percent are undecided. The poll was conducted for the Miami Herald, Tampa Bay Times, the Spanish-language El Nuevo Herald and two in-state cable news stations.
Each candidate wins more than 80 percent of voters in his own party, the poll shows. The two are virtually tied among independents, with Obama holding a statistically insignificant 5-point lead.
The poll shows a wide gender gap emerging in the state. Romney wins male voters by 14 points, 53 percent to 39 percent. But female voters support Obama by the same margin, 52 percent to 38 percent.
Romney wins 53 percent of white voters, compared to 37 percent for Obama, who also captures 93 percent of black voters. Hispanic voters in the state are more evenly divided: Forty-nine percent support Obama, while 42 percent pick Romney.
The two candidates are also neck-and-neck in central Florida and the Tampa Bay region.
If Romney were to choose Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., as his running mate, it would make no significant difference, the poll shows, as Romney turns a 1-percentage-point deficit into a 1-point lead under that scenario.
Florida, which will award 29 electoral votes to its winner this year, up from 27 in the past two elections, is the largest battleground state in the country.
Half of likely voters disapprove of the job Obama is doing as president, compared to 46 percent who approve. Fifty-four percent think the country is on the wrong track. Poll results released earlier this week showed a slim majority of likely voters oppose the 2010 health care law Obama has championed, and the poll also shows Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., with a slight lead over Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fla., in the Sunshine State's closely-watched Senate race.
The poll of 800 lilkely voters was conducted July 9-11. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.