Barack Obama starts the general election with a 5 point advantage over Mitt Romney in Florida, 50-45. This is the biggest lead Obama's had in Florida over the course of five polls PPP's done in the state since the beginning of 2011.
The main reason for Obama's enhanced standing in the state is that his own popularity is on the rise. 51% of voters now approve of him to 45% who disapprove. His numbers with Republicans are unchanged from the last time we polled the state but he's now getting strong marks from independents (57/37, up from 43/50) and Democrats are unifying around him as the general election approaches (he's at 86/11, up from 73/20).
In the head to head with Romney Obama wins independents 53-34, while each candidate gets a pretty even amount of support from his own party with Obama at 84% of the Democratic vote and Romney at 83% of the GOP vote. Obama is up 69-21 with young voters and 52-37 with Hispanics.
We also looked at how four prominent Florida Republicans- Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Allen West, and Rick Scott- might affect the race as Vice Presidential candidates. Only Bush has a positive impact for Romney, bringing the race within three points at 49-46. Bush continues to be a popular figure in the state with 52% of voters viewing him favorably to 40% with a negative opinion.
West and Scott aren't serious VP possibilities anyway, but they'd both have a negative impact on Romney in Florida. With West on the ticket Obama's lead expands to 10 points at 50-40 and with Scott in the mix it goes even larger to 11 points at 51-40.
Scott continues to be one of the most unpopular Governors in the country with 34% of voters approving of him to 54% who disapprove, but those numbers are at least up a little bit from our last poll when he was at 26/58.
I don't know that anyone really thinks West could help Romney with the black vote, but when he goes on the ticket Romney's share of it drops from 10% to 7%. West has a 24/32 statewide favorability rating.
November's a long way off but for now Obama's looking quite good in Florida and it's hard to imagine Romney winning in the fall without it.
Full results here