Oct. 2012 Florida Decides Poll: Romney up 7 points over Obama after first debate

Last Updated: Thursday, October 25, 2012, 10:35 AM EDT

A new, exclusive News 13 Florida Decides Poll shows a new leader in the presidential race and a significant shakeup of opinions among Floridians, with potential national ramifications.

The latest results, released Thursday, show Republican Mitt Romney with a 7-point lead over President Barack Obama.

When asked which ticket would get their vote if the general election were held today, 51 percent of the 800 registered Florida voters polled picked Romney, with 44 percent choosing Obama.

Another 1 percent chose Libertarian Gary Johnson or another third-party candidate, and 4 percent said they were still undecided.

The new numbers show a major change from our last Florida Decides Poll just three weeks earlier, when President Obama held the edge over Romney by just one percentage point.

So, why the sudden switch? The latest poll was taken just this week, Oct. 8–10, about a week after the first one-on-one debate between Romney and Obama.

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Women, Hispanics, independents changing their minds

The biggest change seen from September's poll to this month's were among women, Hispanics and voters who identify with neither major party.

In September, 51 percent of independent voters said they preferred President Obama, and 40 percent said they would vote for Mitt Romney.

Just three weeks later, that vote has flipped, with 52 percent supporting Romney and just 39 percent backing the president.

Among women polled a month ago, 55 percent said they would vote for Obama, and 40 percent for Romney.

Now, that gap has narrowed significantly, with just 49 percent of women choosing Obama, and 47 percent supporting Romney.

The Republican nominee also gained support among men, with a three-point gain to 56 percent, while votes for Obama dropped the same amount.

Four percent of both men and women said they were still undecided, and 1 percent of men chose a third-party candidate.

Breaking it demographically by race, Romney still held the majority of white voters, with 61 percent, while 94 percent of black voters said they support Obama.

The Hispanic vote, however, saw a noticeable shift, with many dropping their support for Obama.

Last month, 52 percent of Hispanic voters polled said they would vote for the president. In three weeks, that number has dropped to 44 percent.

Romney picked up some ground among Hispanics, from 43 to 46 percent, but the number of undecided Hispanic voters has doubled, from 5 percent in September to 10 percent now, representing the largest group of undecided voters in the latest poll.

Another noticeable change was also seen along the I-4 Corridor.

In Central Florida, Romney grabbed just 48 percent in September. Now, he has 52 percent of Central Floridians' votes.

Obama's support in Central Florida dropped one point, to 46 percent, so Romney's gain came mostly from previously undecided voters. The undecided vote in Central Florida dropped from 5 to 2 percent in three weeks.

In Tampa Bay, support for Romney jumped from 45 to 52 percent, and votes for Obama dropped from 49 to 44 percent. Undecided voters dropped from 5 to 3 percent, and the remaining 1 percent is backing a third party.

Obama also saw a drop in support in almost every age group, including a 7 percent drop among voters between ages 50 and 64. In September, 46 percent of that group said they would vote for Obama. Now, he only has 39 percent of their support.

Even Florida's youngest voters have begun changing their minds. Support for Obama among voters aged 18 to 34 dropped from 59 to 53 percent in three weeks. Romney saw a 3 percent gain, to 40 percent, in the same age group, and 7 percent now say they are undecided, as opposed to 3 percent last month.

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First presidential debate's impact

So, what changed voters' minds?

The first debate between Obama and Romney last week was most likely the biggest influencer.

Most did not change their minds. According to our exclusive poll, 88 percent of voters said they support the same candidate they preferred before the debate -- 44 percent for Obama, and 44 percent for Romney.

But it's the undecided vote both candidates are really after, and 5 percent said they were undecided before the debate, but now favor Romney.

No one in our Florida Decides poll said they went from being undecided to favoring Obama.

To add to the debate backlash, 2 percent said they switched from Obama to Romney, and another 2 percent said they preferred Obama, but are now undecided.

Two percent said they were undecided before the debate and still are now, and the remaining 1 percent said they were voting for a third-party candidate.

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Is it over for Obama in Florida?

Has the president lost all hope of taking Florida again like he did in 2008?

Not according to our polling experts. There are still two presidential debates that could potentially swing voters again.

Our experts did add, however, that once a voter changes their mind from one candidate to the other, it's difficult to win back that vote.

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Poll numbers in detail

QUESTION: Do you recognize the name ________?
(If yes) Do you have a favorable, unfavorable or neutral opinion of ________?

* (Numbers in parentheses from September poll)

  RECOGNIZE FAVORABLE RECOGNIZE UNFAVORABLE RECOGNIZE
NEUTRAL
DON'T
RECOGNIZE
  Mitt Romney 50% 38% 12%
  Paul Ryan 48% 35% 14% 3%
  Barack Obama 45% 49% 6%
  Joe Biden 39% 46% 14% 1%

 

QUESTION: If the 2012 general election for president and vice president were held today, which one of the following tickets would get your vote?

  • The Democratic ticket of Barack Obama & Joe Biden
  • The Republican ticket of Mitt Romney & Paul Ryan
  • The Libertarian ticket of Gary Johnson & James Gray
  • One of the other party tickets

* (Numbers in parentheses from September poll)

  OBAMA
ROMNEY
OTHERS
UNDECIDED
STATE
44% (48%)
51% (47%) 1% (1%)
4% (4%)
REGION
OBAMA
ROMNEY
OTHERS
UNDECIDED
  North Florida
38%
59% 3%
  Central Florida
46% 52% 2%
  Tampa Bay
44% 52% 1% 3%
  Southwest Florida
37% 59% 4%
  Southeast Florida
54% 42% 1% 3%
SEX
OBAMA
ROMNEY
OTHERS
UNDECIDED
  Men
39% 56% 1% 4%
  Women
49% 47% 4%
AGE
OBAMA
ROMNEY
OTHERS
UNDECIDED
  18–34
53% 40% 7%
  35–49
43% 52% 5%
  50–64
39% 54% 1% 6%
  65+
45% 52% 1% 2%
RACE
OBAMA
ROMNEY
OTHERS
UNDECIDED
  White
34% 61% 1% 4%
  Black
94% 5% 1%
  Hispanic
44% 46% 10%
PARTY
OBAMA
ROMNEY
OTHERS
UNDECIDED
  Democrat
82% 14% 4%
  Republican
4% 94% 2%
  Independent
39% 52% 3% 6%

 

QUESTION: Which one of the following best describes how the presidential debate influenced your voting decision?

  Supported Obama before the debate and still support him 44%
  Supported Romney before the debate and still support him 44%
  Was undecided, but now for Romney 5%
  Support Obama, but now for Romney 2%
  Support Obama before the debate, but now undecided 2%
  Undecided before the debate and still undecided 2%
  For other candidate 1%
  Supported Romney, but now for Obama
  Supported Romney before the debate, but now undecided
  Was undecided, but now for Obama

 

QUESTION: Do you approve or disapprove of Barack Obama's job performance as president?

  APPROVE
DISAPPROVE
NOT SURE
STATE
44% 54% 2%
REGION
APPROVE
DISAPPROVE
NOT SURE
  North Florida
39% 59% 2%
  Central Florida
40% 58% 2%
  Tampa Bay
44% 54% 2%
  Southwest Florida
35% 64% 1%
  Southeast Florida
54% 44% 2%
SEX
APPROVE
DISAPPROVE
NOT SURE
  Men
38% 60% 2%
  Women
49% 49% 2%
RACE
APPROVE
DISAPPROVE
NOT SURE
  White
34% 65% 2%
  Black
91% 6% 3%
  Hispanic
53% 44% 3%
PARTY
APPROVE
DISAPPROVE
NOT SURE
  Democrat
82% 16% 2%
  Republican
5% 93% 2%
  Independent
39% 59% 2%

 

QUESTION: Would you say that things in the country are on the right track or would you say they are on the wrong track?

  RIGHT
WRONG
NOT SURE
STATE
41% 54% 5%
REGION
RIGHT
WRONG
NOT SURE
  North Florida
33% 63% 4%
  Central Florida
36% 59% 5%
  Tampa Bay
41% 56% 3%
  Southwest Florida
36% 59% 5%
  Southeast Florida
51% 42% 7%
SEX
RIGHT
WRONG
NOT SURE
  Men
38% 58% 4%
  Women
43% 51% 6%
RACE
RIGHT
WRONG
NOT SURE
  White
34% 63% 3%
  Black
78% 12% 10%
  Hispanic
42% 49% 9%
PARTY
RIGHT
WRONG
NOT SURE
  Democrat
74% 20% 6%
  Republican
6% 91% 3%
  Independent
35% 58% 7%

 

QUESTION: Are you better off today than you were four years ago?

  YES
NO
NOT SURE
STATE
44% 50% 6%
REGION
YES
NO
NOT SURE
  North Florida
40% 55% 5%
  Central Florida
35% 58% 7%
  Tampa Bay
42% 51% 7%
  Southwest Florida
39% 56% 5%
  Southeast Florida
57% 37% 6%
SEX
YES
NO
NOT SURE
  Men
41% 55% 4%
  Women
46% 46% 8%
RACE
YES
NO
NOT SURE
  White
39% 55% 6%
  Black
73% 22% 5%
  Hispanic
37% 53% 10%
PARTY
YES
NO
NOT SURE
  Democrat
73% 20% 7%
  Republican
13% 83% 4%
  Independent
43% 51% 6%

 

QUESTION: Who do you trust more to improve the economy – Barack Obama or Mitt Romney?

  OBAMA
ROMNEY
NOT SURE
STATE
44% 50% 6%
REGION
OBAMA
ROMNEY
NOT SURE
  North Florida
36% 59% 5%
  Central Florida
39% 54% 7%
  Tampa Bay
41% 52% 7%
  Southwest Florida
39% 56% 5%
  Southeast Florida
56% 38% 6%
SEX
OBAMA
ROMNEY
NOT SURE
  Men
41% 55% 4%
  Women
46% 47% 7%
AGE
OBAMA
ROMNEY
NOT SURE
  18–34
54% 40% 6%
  35–49
41% 55% 4%
  50–64
42% 52% 4%
  65+
44% 53% 3%
RACE
OBAMA
ROMNEY
NOT SURE
  White
37% 58% 5%
  Black
84% 11% 5%
  Hispanic
39% 48% 13%
PARTY
OBAMA
ROMNEY
NOT SURE
  Democrat
83% 13% 4%
  Republican
4% 92% 4%
  Independent
39% 54% 7%

 

QUESTION: Who do you trust more on foreign policy – Barack Obama or Mitt Romney?

  OBAMA
ROMNEY
NOT SURE
STATE
46% 49% 5%
REGION
OBAMA
ROMNEY
NOT SURE
  North Florida
39% 57% 4%
  Central Florida
46% 51% 3%
  Tampa Bay
46% 48% 6%
  Southwest Florida
40% 58% 2%
  Southeast Florida
53% 40% 7%
SEX
OBAMA
ROMNEY
NOT SURE
  Men
39% 58% 3%
  Women
52% 42% 6%
AGE
OBAMA
ROMNEY
NOT SURE
  18–34
53% 42% 5%
  35–49
45% 52% 3%
  50–64
44% 49% 7%
  65+
46% 49% 5%
RACE
OBAMA
ROMNEY
NOT SURE
  White
38% 57% 5%
  Black
91% 6% 3%
  Hispanic
45% 49% 6%
PARTY
OBAMA
ROMNEY
NOT SURE
  Democrat
82% 13% 5%
  Republican
7% 91% 2%
  Independent
47% 49% 4%

 

QUESTION: Who do you trust more to look out for the middle class – Barack Obama or Mitt Romney?

  OBAMA
ROMNEY
NOT SURE
STATE
47% 50% 3%
REGION
OBAMA
ROMNEY
NOT SURE
  North Florida
37% 61% 2%
  Central Florida
46% 51% 3%
  Tampa Bay
46% 48% 6%
  Southwest Florida
40% 56% 4%
  Southeast Florida
57% 42% 1%
SEX
OBAMA
ROMNEY
NOT SURE
  Men
44% 55% 1%
  Women
50% 46% 4%
AGE
OBAMA
ROMNEY
NOT SURE
  18–34
54% 43% 3%
  35–49
45% 51% 4%
  50–64
47% 51% 2%
  65+
46% 51% 3%
RACE
OBAMA
ROMNEY
NOT SURE
  White
38% 60% 2%
  Black
94% 2% 4%
  Hispanic
45% 46% 9%
PARTY
OBAMA
ROMNEY
NOT SURE
  Democrat
84% 11% 5%
  Republican
7% 92% 1%
  Independent
44% 51% 5%

 

QUESTION: Who do you consider more trustworthy to lead the nation – Barack Obama or Mitt Romney?

  OBAMA
ROMNEY
NOT SURE
STATE
46% 51% 3%
REGION
OBAMA
ROMNEY
NOT SURE
  North Florida
40% 56% 4%
  Central Florida
45% 53% 2%
  Tampa Bay
47% 51% 2%
  Southwest Florida
39% 56% 5%
  Southeast Florida
52% 45% 3%
SEX
OBAMA
ROMNEY
NOT SURE
  Men
42% 56% 2%
  Women
51% 46% 3%
AGE
OBAMA
ROMNEY
NOT SURE
  18–34
51% 45% 4%
  35–49
42% 55% 3%
  50–64
45% 52% 3%
  65+
48% 49% 3%
RACE
OBAMA
ROMNEY
NOT SURE
  White
37% 60% 3%
  Black
93% 3% 4%
  Hispanic
40% 53% 7%
PARTY
OBAMA
ROMNEY
NOT SURE
  Democrat
84% 13% 3%
  Republican
5% 93% 2%
  Independent
42% 54% 4%

 

QUESTION: Whose plans do you think are more likely to do more long term harm to Medicare – Barack Obama's or Mitt Romney's?

  OBAMA
ROMNEY
NOT SURE
STATE
54% 40% 6%
REGION
OBAMA
ROMNEY
NOT SURE
  North Florida
60% 36% 4%
  Central Florida
56% 39% 5%
  Tampa Bay
58% 37% 5%
  Southwest Florida
60% 32% 8%
  Southeast Florida
44% 48% 8%
SEX
OBAMA
ROMNEY
NOT SURE
  Men
58% 39% 3%
  Women
51% 40% 9%
AGE
OBAMA
ROMNEY
NOT SURE
  18–34
39% 52% 9%
  35–49
59% 33% 8%
  50–64
56% 39% 5%
  65+
54% 43% 3%
RACE
OBAMA
ROMNEY
NOT SURE
  White
64% 31% 5%
  Black
10% 83% 7%
  Hispanic
47% 41% 12%
PARTY
OBAMA
ROMNEY
NOT SURE
  Democrat
26% 69% 5%
  Republican
86% 7% 7%
  Independent
58% 37% 5%

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The telephone survey of 800 registered Florida voters — all likely to vote in the November election — was conducted Oct. 8–10 for the Tampa Bay Times, Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald, Bay News 9 and News 13.

The poll, which included respondents using land-lines and cell phones, was conducted by Mason-Dixon, a nonpartisan, Jacksonville-based company. The margin of error is 3.5 percentage points.