President Barack Obama faces an uphill climb in the Sunshine State 10 months before Election Day, according to a new Quinnipiac poll.
The presumptive Republican nominee du jour, Mitt Romney, holds a slim 46 to 43 percent lead over the president. The poll was conducted before the former Massachusetts governor enjoyed a significant boost on Tuesday by winning the New Hampshire Primary.
The runner up in the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses, Rick Santorum, would trail Obama in a head-to-head race in Florida, with the president holding a 2 percent lead over the former Pennsylvania Senator.
The numbers are more damning when taken from a broader perspective. Obama's approval rating in Florida is an abysmal 42 to 54 percent, with 52 percent of voters saying he does not deserve another four years in the White House.
Florida: Major Swing State
Florida is among the most important swing states in the country and if the election was today President Barack Obama would have difficulty winning its electoral votes, said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the school's Polling Institute. But the election isn't for 10 more months so he has plenty of time to turn things around. Nevertheless, President Obama needs to mend fences in the Sunshine State, especially among men, whites and those voters without college degrees. The difference among voters by age is especially striking.
The figures could spell electoral trouble. Florida has been a key state in determining the winner of presidential elections for the last two decades. Since Ronald Reagan's win in 1980, Florida's electoral votes went to the eventual loser only once, in 1992 when it favored George H.W. Bush in an eventual loss to Bill Clinton.
In 2008, Obama carried a slim margin to victory, squeaking past John McCain by 3 points. The demographics of the state may hold him back in 2012.
Among voters under the age of 50, Obama holds a 51-39 lead over Romney. But the electorate skews towards retirement age, and his numbers among that crowd are dismal.
The problem for Obama is that those over 50 make up 62 percent of the electorate, compared to the 35 percent who are under 50, Brown added.
Obama is having difficulty retaining voters within his own party, with Romney syphoning off support from 9 percent of registered Democrats while the President has support from 4 percent of Republicans.
The figures were released ahead of the Sunshine State's Jan. 31 primary.