TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) _ Supported by the coalition of voters that catapulted him to the presidency four years ago, Barack Obama has regained a small lead over challenger Mitt Romney among Florida voters, a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday shows.
Obama was favored by 46 percent compared to 42 percent who preferred Romney in Quinnipiac's random telephone survey of 1,697 registered voters in the nation's largest swing state. The poll taken June 12-18 has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points.
Romney led in a similar Quinnipiac survey last month when he was preferred by 47 percent to Obama's 41 percent. The president benefited most from a big swing among independent voters who preferred Obama by a 46-37 margin. A month ago, independents chose Romney by a 44-36 margin.
“It's worth noting that the last Quinnipiac University Florida poll was on the heels of the president's backing of gay marriage, which might have hurt him,'' pollster Peter Brown said Thursday. “This movement reflects that uncertainty among voters who are up for grabs.''
Obama was backed by young voters, minorities and women while Romney was favored by white and older voters.
“Romney is not well-defined in the minds of many voters, especially those in the middle,'' Brown said.
The poll also shows U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV far ahead of the field with 698 GOP voters in his bid for the Republican nomination and a shot at unseating two-term U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. The Republican sampling had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.
Mack, the son of former U.S. Sen. Connie Mack and great-grandson of the legendary baseball owner and manager with the same name, received 41 percent while no other Republican candidate was in double figures.
George LeMieux, who was appointed by former Gov. Charlie Crist to serve the last 16 months of former U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez's term in the nation's capital, hoped to win the seat on his own, but dropped out Wednesday after failing to gain traction with Republican voters.
The poll was taken before LeMieux's announcement that he was getting out of the race and showed the one-time adviser to Crist with the support of only 8 percent of Republicans, although nearly two of every five remained undecided. Former U.S. Rep. Dave Weldon (3 percent) and Tea Party favorite Mike McCallister (5 percent) of Plant City remain challengers to Mack .
“The Republican Senate nomination is Congressman Connie Mack's to lose,'' Brown said. “It would take a major change in public opinion for one of the other candidates to stop Connie Mack.''
The poll showed Nelson with a 43-39 edge on Mack if the election were held now with 18 percent undecided.
Mack is trying to regain the seat won his father 24 years ago when the elder Mack defeated Democratic nominee Buddy MacKay in the closest U.S. Senate race in Florida history.
Nelson was elected in 2000 when he defeated Republican Bill McCollum. He was easily re-elected in 2006 when he faced former U.S. rep. and Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris.