Florida: Eight-Point Gap in Two Polls

In Florida, President Barack Obama is either one point ahead of Republican Mitt Romney.

Or seven points behind him.

Pick a poll.

A survey conducted this week for the Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald found 51 percent of likely Florida voters supporting Romney, 44 percent backing Obama and 4 percent undecided. That’s a shift from a month ago when the same poll showed Obama leading 48 percent to 47 percent. The first presidential debate is cited as the reason.

That Mason-Dixon Polling and Research survey for the newspapers conflicts with another swing-state poll released today: An NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist College survey found Obama leading Romney by 48 to 47 percent in Florida. That, too, marks a shift from September, when Obama led by 51-45 percent. More sign of a debate bounce.

The Mason-Dixon survey of 800 registered voters — all likely to vote — was conducted Oct. 8-10, with a possible margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

The NBC/Journal/Marist poll of 988 likely voters in Florida was taken Oct. 7-9, with a 3.1 percentage point margin of error.

Last month, these polls were closer. Marist College’s survey for NBC and the Journal found Obama up five points — 49-44– in a survey Sept. 9-11.  Mason-Dixon, polling for the Florida papers, found Obama up one point — 48-47 — in a Sept. 17-19 survey.

There is a methodology difference, the Times’ Adam Smith reports: “Mason-Dixon, which has been polling in Florida for 28 years, uses a survey sample based on people’s voter actual registration to match the electorate in Florida, while Marist uses a sample based on whether people say they consider themselves a Republican, Democrat or independent.”

The Obama campaign found another point of contention:

The Mason-Dixon poll showed 46 percent of likely Hispanic voters favoring Romney and 46 percent Romney, though the margin of error is higher for that number. The NBC/Journal/Marist poll found Romney favored among 62 percent of Cuban-American voters in Florida, Obama favored among 61 percent of the non-Cuban Hispanic voters — who represent a fast-growing bloc in Central Florida.

Obama adviser David Plouffe told the newspapers that Obama got 57 percent of the state’s Hispanic vote in 2008, and expects more than 60 percent this time.


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