Obama-Romney Tie in Florida, Newspaper Endorsements Split

Photograph by Jewel Samad/AFP via GettyImages

Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign event on Oct. 5, 2012 in St. Petersburg, Florida.

It’s hot in Florida, we already knew — a dead-heat, a CNN poll today finds.

Among Florida’s likely voters, the poll finds, 49 percent support Republican Mitt Romney, 48 percent President Barack Obama. The survey has a possible four percentage point margin of error.

The CNN/ORC International survey of 681 likely voters was run Oct. 17-18, the two days following the second televised presidential debate between Obama and Romney. The two will meet for their final debate, in Boca Raton, Florida, Monday at 9 pm EDT.

A CNN/ORC International run Aug. 31 through Sept. 3 found an even tie: Obama 48 percent, Romney 48 percent.

Obama carried the state by 2.8 percentage points in 2008. The biggest of all swing states, Florida backed Presidents George W. Bush twice, Bill Clinton once, George H.W. Bush twice, Ronald Reagan twice and Jimmy Carter once.

Two big newspaper editorial endorsements in Florida also have split: The Orlando Sentinel endorsing Romney, the Tampa Bay Times Obama.

For the Orlando paper, with a long record of Republican endorsements, it was a reversal from 2008, when it backed Obama. For the Tampa Bay paper, formerly known as the St. Petersburg Times, with a history of Democratic endorsements, it was a reaffirmation of its 2008 choice.

“Four years ago,”the Tampa Bay paper’s editors write in an editorial online and in Sunday’s newspaper, “Barack Obama offered an inspiring message of hope and change to an uneasy nation bogged down in two wars and facing economic collapse. The rosy idealism quickly gave way to the harsh realities of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. The recovery has proven more difficult than anyone imagined. But conditions would be far worse without the president’s steady leadership. This is not the time to reverse course and return to the failed policies of the past.”

The Orlando paper had endorsed Obama in 2008 and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts before him, but since 1956 (including 2012), the paper has endorsed Republicans 11 times, Democrats three times, and once, in 1980, neither. “Often, as in the case of Mitt Romney, our recommendation turned on which candidate we thought would better handle the challenges of America’s economy,” the editors write.

Here’s a recent history, from the newspaper:

1984 — Ronald Reagan (R)

“… [Y]es, there is an asterisk to this endorsement. … It’s there because Ronald Reagan more than anyone else must remember that this is an election based on two choices and that being the better choice is far short of being the messiah of a new political order.”

1988 — George H.W. Bush (R)

“The only thing certain is that the nation cannot continue to amass debt as it has over the past eight years. … Indeed, this mutual inability to deal head on with the deadly federal deficit and an uncertain economy is one of many reasons the nation longs for more satisfactory choices in the presidential race.”

1992 — George H.W. Bush (R)

“Mr. Clinton argues that combining a Democratic president with a Democratic Congress, for the first time in 12 years, will break the legislative logjam on Capitol Hill. … The concern, though, is that significant tax increases and significant new spending will be what comes spilling through.”

1996 — Bob Dole (R)

“… Bob Dole sees more clearly than does Bill Clinton that government’s role should diminish, not expand. With Mr. Dole, responsibility rests more with individuals to solve problems.”

2000 — George W. Bush (R)

“Mr. Bush has studied history and business. He is qualified to understand what inspires business. And he has a history of achieving bipartisan success in Texas, something badly needed at the national level. …”

2004 — John Kerry (D)

“Mr. Bush has abandoned the core values we thought we shared with him — keeping the nation strong while ensuring that its government is limited, accountable and fiscally responsible.”

2008 — Barack Obama (D)

“If Mr. Obama wants to fulfill his promise as a leader who rises above a partisan agenda, he will need to strike a moderate course.”

2012 — Mitt Romney (R)

Oct. 19: “We have little confidence that Obama would be more successful managing the economy and the budget in the next four years. For that reason, though we endorsed him in 2008, we are recommending Romney in this race.”

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