Mitt Romney has gained a 6-point lead ahead of President Barack Obama in the critical battleground state of Florida -- and an 8-point lead if U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is on the Republican candidate's ticket, according to a new poll.
A Quinnipiac poll published Wednesday has Romney leading President Obama 47 - 41 percent in a hypothetical matchup in the Sunshine state, a steady increase the past couple of months; a March 28 survey had Obama in the lead 49 - 42 percent and a May 3 poll had the two candidates in a near tie, 44 - 43 percent.
Romney's new lead slightly widens when local star Rubio is added to the ticket, showing how much of an asset the Tea Party favorite could be to the former Massachusetts governor. A Romney/Rubio ticket leads an Obama/Biden ticket 49 - 41 percent.
Supporters of a Romney/Rubio ticket believe the rising Cuban-American GOP party freshman could help swing the Latino vote - and the Florida vote in general -- in Romney's favor. But Rubio has denied any desire to be a Republican presidential running mate enough times to calm speculation about the possibility.
I am really committed to doing a good job in the Senate, Rubio told reporters at a forum sponsored by the National Journal mid-April, according to the Christian Science Monitor. If I do a good job in the Senate, three, four, five, six years from now, I'll have a different opportunity ... to do things inside of government and outside of government.
With or without Rubio, the Quinnipiac poll results pose a problem for the Obama campaign. Florida, a swing state that voted Republican in 2004 and Democratic in 2008, has 27 electoral votes. It holds the fourth-highest electoral vote total in the country, behind California (55), Texas (35), and New York (31), which are solidly blue, red and blue respectively.
Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt, however, indicated they weren't worried about the numbers, pointing out that more Republicans were sampled than Democrats.
FL Q poll doesn't show a change in the horse race, shows a change in the sample. More Rs surveyed, less Ds and [Indepenedents] LaBolt tweeted.
Although Florida voters banned same-sex marriage and civil unions in 2008 with 62 percent of the vote, most poll respondents said that Obama's recent support of legalizing same-sex marriage doesn't make a difference on their opinion. Sixty-three percent said the president's views makes no difference in how they vote at the end of the day, while 25 percent said they were less likely to favor Obama because of it.