President Obama has battled back in vote-rich Florida, wrestling away a slight lead from Mitt Romney on the backs of independent voters, according to a new poll released early Thursday.
The poll, conducted by Quinnipiac University, shows Obama leading Romney, 46 percent to 42 percent, near the edges of the poll's margin of error of plus-or-minus 2.4 percentage points. Eleven percent of voters prefer another candidate, would not vote or are undecided.
Obama has assembled the outlines of a winning coalition in the state, according to the poll. Though the two candidates run neck-and-neck among men, Obama leads among female voters by 10 points, 49 percent to 39 percent. Obama also leads among independents, 46 percent to 37 percent.
White voters tilt toward Romney, 50 percent to 37 percent, with no significant difference among more- and less-educated whites. Obama is not matching the 42 percent of the white vote he won in 2008, according to exit polls, but Romney also trails the 56-percent performance by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., among these voters.
Obama wins more than nine in10 black voters, and he posts a 10-point lead among Hispanics, a group he won by 15 points in 2008. (The poll was conducted June 12-18, roughly equally before and after Obama's announcement that he would not deport certain illegal immigrants who arrived as children.)
In a Quinnipiac poll last month, Romney had taken a 6-point lead, 47 percent to 41 percent, including an 8-point lead among independents. The overall change between the surveys is statistically significant.
"The president is doing better among independent voters," said Quinnipiac University Polling Institute assistant director Peter Brown in a news release. "It is also worth noting that the last Quinnipiac University Florida poll was on the heels of the president's backing of gay marriage, which might have hurt him at the time."
Indeed, Obama's numbers have improved across-the-board in the poll. His favorable-to-unfavorable rating is now 47 percent to 46 percent, up from a net-negative split last month. Romney's ratings, which were 9 points net-positive last month, slipped significantly: Just 39 percent of voters have a favorable opinion of the former Massachusetts governor, compared to 42 percent who view him unfavorably. Among independents, only 32 percent have a favorable opinion of Romney; independents are split evenly (46 percent favorable, 46 percent unfavorable) on their opinions of Obama.
Obama's approval rating has improved to 47 percent, up from 44 percent. And voters are now split evenly on whether he deserves to be reelected, better than the 52 percent who said last month that he did not deserve reelection.
Still, Obama is still well within the danger zone in the state. He is far short of the 50-percent threshold in the horse-race matchup, and his approval rating is still underwater; 49 percent of voters disapprove of his job performance. On the economy, 48 percent of voters think Romney would do a better job, compared to 44 percent for Obama -- though this is an improvement for the president from Romney's 10-point lead on this question last month.
Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,697 registered voters. The poll also shows Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson opening up a slight lead over his GOP challenger, Rep. Connie Mack; the race, which could determine which party controls the Senate in 2013, was tied last month.