Romney takes lead in new Florida poll

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney waves after speaking at a campaign stop, Tuesday, May 15, 2012, in Des Moines, Iowa. AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

A new poll from Quinnipiac University shows Mitt Romney up six points in the crucial battleground state of Florida.

According to the survey, which was conducted last week, Romney holds a 47-41 percent lead over President Obama in the Sunshine State. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 2.4 percentage points.

Just weeks ago in a poll released on May 3, the polling group found Romney edging out Mr. Obama by just a 44-43 percent margin. In a March 28 Quinnipiac poll, Mr. Obama led Romney 49-42 percent.

Additionally, the poll found that picking Sen. Marco Rubio to be his vice president would give Romney an additional two percentage points, widening the gap against an Obama - Biden ticket to 49-41 percent. Amongst independents the split is even more dramatic, with 46-37 percent support for the Republican ticket.

Men overwhelmingly supported Romney in the poll 50-37 percent, but women were divided, 44-45 percent.

The Romney campaign, which seeks to stay on an economic message at all times, says that essentially, Mr. Obama has hit a ceiling in terms of his favorability numbers in the state, and will only continue to because of Florida's frail economy. Underscoring Mr. Obama's challenges in the battleground state he won in 2008, Florida's unemployment rate in April was 8.7 percent - a drop from 9 percent in March, but still above the national average of 8.1 percent. In the poll, Romney is viewed as better able to handle the economy, 50-40 percent.

"With the economy not likely to improve significantly between now and Election Day, and the death of Osama Bin Laden already baked in the cake, Republicans find it hard to foresee game-changers that could significantly improve President Obama's numbers during the next six months," one Romney staffer in Florida told CBS News.

However, Democrats challenged the methodology of the poll and the demographics of the sample.

"This poll is flawed," said Florida Democratic Party spokeswoman Brannon Jordan. "A deeper look at the numbers reveal the poll does not accurately reflect Florida's electorate."

Ben Labolt, press secretary for Obama's re-election campaign, Tweeted that the poll "doesn't show a change in the horse race, shows a change in the sample." LaBolt went on to write that more Republicans were surveyed than Democrats and Independents.

Peter Brown, Assistant Director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, defended the merits of the poll. Brown said that none of the school's polls weight their participants by party affiliation. He also noted that there are more Democrats registered to vote in Florida, but Republicans hold the governorship and the legislature, showing how people's party affiliations change and alter how they vote.

Brown added that there are other factors that they do take into account in order to ensure an accurate sampling. "We weight for sex. We weight for age. We weight for race. Why do we do that? Because those things don't change," he said.

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