Mitt Romney's return to the top of the GOP field is very good news for Republicans if they want to knock off Barack Obama next year. Our newest Florida poll finds that Romney would be in a toss up with Obama in the critical swing state but that Perry trails Obama by 7 points, which would be the biggest margin of defeat for a Republican candidate in Florida since Harry Truman blew out Thomas Dewey in 1948.
Obama's not popular in Florida- only 46% of voters approve of him to 51% who disapprove. His numbers with independents are particularly bad at 41/52 and there are twice as many Democrats who disapprove of him as there are Republicans who think he's doing a good job. His numbers look great compared to Perry though. Only 29% of voters see him favorably to 58% with a negative opinion. Independents split against him 22/61 and he's already established himself as the candidate Democrats hate the most with 83% giving him a negative rating. Social Security's a big issue in Florida and only 25% of voters agree with Perry's statement that it's a 'Ponzi Scheme' to 63% who disagree with his point of view.
Perry trails Obama 50-43, including a 53-40 deficit with independents. Other Republicans make it very close though. Romney trails only 46-45 and Ron Paul actually does just as well, trailing 45-44. 58% of undecideds in the Obama/Romney match and 72% in the Obama/Paul match disapprove of the President's job performance so odds are those folks would split against him in the end and put the state into the GOP column. This may be the most positive poll for Paul that we've ever conducted- he leads by 15 points with independents even as the rest of the Republican candidates trail Obama with that voting group. The problem for Paul is that independents like him a lot more than Republicans do and that puts his chances for the nomination at slim to none...but he might really be able to make a dent if he ended up running as an independent instead.
The biggest sign of Perry's weakness in Florida might be that even Michele Bachmann polls better than him there- she trails Obama by just 5 points at 49-44. The only person Perry performs better than is Newt Gingrich whose deficit against the President is 8 points at 50-42.
Although he's in a lot of trouble in the state one thing Obama does not appear to have in Florida is a Jewish problem. Although it's a small sample he leads Perry by an 82-2 margin and Romney by a 78-11 spread with them. His overall approval with Jewish voters is 76/20 and specifically on the issue of Israel he's at 61/31 with Jews.
Full results here