By Steve Peoples, Roll Call
He may have underwhelming approval numbers in the Sunshine State, but President Barack Obamaâ€™s best chance at winning Floridaâ€™s horde of electoral votes in 2012 could be Sarah Palin.
The former Alaska Governor trails Obama by â€œa stunning 14-point marginâ€ â€” 52 percent to 38 percent, in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup released this morning by Public Policy Polling. The left-leaning pollster noted that a Democrat hasnâ€™t won Florida by such a wide margin since 1948, when Harry Truman won by 15 points. The presidential race in the Sunshine State, of course, carries tremendous downballot implications for the re-election bid of Sen. Bill Nelson (D), not to mention the 25 Congressional seats that now exist and the two additional seats that will be created as a result of population growth.
Democrats said the increase is largely attributed to more Hispanic voters, who generally side with them, although the effects of redistricting wonâ€™t be known until the new districts are shaped.
The new seats mean that Florida carries greater significance in presidential politics. Florida will move into a tie with New York (which is losing two seats) in 2012 for the third-largest pool of electoral votes at 29. A state’s electoral votes are determined by adding its Congressional seats and Senate seats.
PPP tested a series of hypothetical presidential matchups among 1,034 Florida voters from Dec. 17 to 20. The margin of error was 3 points. While no Republican has formally announced at this point, Palin is largely believed to be weighing a bid for the nationâ€™s top elected post.
Part of Palin’s problem in Florida, pollster Tom Jensen writes in his blog, is tepid support from Republicans; she gets only 63 percent of her own party’s vote. But her greatest shortfall is with independent voters. She trails Obama by 41 points â€” 67 percent to 26 percent â€” among the key voting bloc.
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