Poll Shows Florida Voters Warming to Obama

President shows improvement in swing state poll.

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President Barack Obama speaks to supporters at a campaign rally at Ohio State University.

President Obama has bolstered his standing with voters in a key swing state against Republican rival Mitt Romney, according to a recent poll.

Obama leads Romney 46 percent to 45 percent, according to a Suffolk University-WSVN-Miami poll released Wednesday.

That's a change from a similar poll taken in January that had Romney with a five-point lead in the state. The latest poll, which surveyed 600 registered voters between May 6-8, shows 7 percent of voters undecided. The current spread between the Democrat and Republican is also well within the poll's 4 point margin of error.

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David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Polling Research Center, said Romney has suffered from the prolonged Republican nomination battle.

"Despite locking up the Republican nomination and a strong showing in the Florida Republican primary in January, Romney still has a lot of work to do to win over Florida voters," he said in a statement released with the survey findings. "He would need to repair the fallout of negativity from the Republican primaries by being more likable and offering general-election voters a positive alternative to President Obama."

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Despite 60 percent of respondents saying the country is on the 'wrong track,' the poll actually showed improvement in the number of people who believed that it is on the 'right track,' another factor helping Obama.

"This positive movement on perceptions about the direction of the country over two consecutive polls is solid evidence that things are looking better to those who weren't sure in the last poll," Paleologos said. "An acceleration of this number is the trajectory that Obama could ride to reelection as people tie the economy to his incumbency in a positive way."

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The silver lining in the numbers for Romney is a finding that in a tight contest, he may be able to swing things his way by choosing the right vice presidential candidate. Two Floridians often floated as possibilities, Sen. Marco Rubio and former Gov. Jeb Bush, buoys his support. Choosing Bush puts Romney ahead of Obama by 2 points and a Rubio pick makes Romney's lead 3 points.

"A small percentage of Obama voters would leave the Democratic ticket to follow Rubio, tipping the scales to the GOP," said Paleologos. "In a contest likely decided by 1 or 2 points, Rubio's ballot presence could be the key to Florida's electoral votes."

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  • Rebekah Metzler is a political writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact her at rmetzler@usnews.com or follow her on Twitter.