Donald Trump has a slim advantage in Florida as critical independent voters narrowly break his way in the must-win battleground state, a Bloomberg Politics poll released Wednesday shows.
In a four-way race among the full sample of 953 likely voters, the poll's breakdown is:
- Donald Trump, 45 percent
- Hillary Clinton, 43 percent
- Gary Johnson, 4 percent
- Jill Stein, 2 percent
In a hypothetical two-way race, Trump has 46 percent to Clinton's 45 percent.
Among independents, Trump gets 43 percent to Clinton's 41 percent in a head-to-head contest. When third-party candidates are included, Trump picks up 1 point with independents while Clinton drops to 37 percent, with Libertarian Gary Johnson taking 9 percent and the Green Party's Jill Stein getting 5 percent.
"This race may come down to the independent vote," said pollster J. Ann Selzer, who oversaw the survey. "Right now, they tilt for Trump. By a narrow margin, they opted for Obama over Romney in 2012."
Trump's showing in this poll is stronger than in other recent surveys in the state. Clinton had an advantage of 3.1 percentage points in the RealClearPolitics Florida average on Tuesday.
Read the questions and methodology for the Selzer & Co. poll, which has an overall margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points, here.
President Barack Obama won independents in 2012 by 3 percentage points, and the overall state by less than a point, his narrowest victory that year.
Florida, one of two states Trump calls home, is rated by major election forecasters as a toss-up or leaning toward Clinton. If Trump won all the states Mitt Romney did in 2012, plus Florida's 29 Electoral College votes, he'd still be 35 electoral votes short of the 270 needed to win the White House.
This poll was conducted Friday through Monday, covering the first two days of Trump's three-day campaign swing there. Both campaigns are focusing heavily on the state in terms of advertising and time. Clinton planned to be there Wednesday for the second day in a row and Obama will stump there on her behalf on Friday.
Clinton gets 51 percent of the Sunshine State's Hispanic vote and 49 percent of those under age 35 in the two-way contest, while Trump has 51 percent of seniors and 50 percent of those without college degrees.
Other groups Clinton wins handily in the two-way contest include non-whites (+33 points), those in the Miami area (+30 points), and those with college degrees (+10 points).
Demographics where Trump is recording some of his biggest advantages over Clinton also include rural residents (+31 points), those in the more conservative northwest Florida Panhandle (+14 points), and those without college degrees (+9 points).
"This poll suggests Trump has more opportunity in Florida than some think is realistic given his poor standing with Hispanics," Selzer said. "But he does well with groups that are key to winning there, including older, more reliable voters. Clinton depends on younger voters and a strong presence at the polls of black and non-Cuban Hispanics."
Rubio Leads Senate Race
In the U.S. Senate race, Republican incumbent Marco Rubio leads Democratic Representative Patrick Murphy 51 percent to 41 percent. Independents support Rubio 51 percent to 36 percent.
Almost half of likely voters say Rubio's campaign is more about preparing for a second presidential bid in 2020 than serving the state's people. Even 28 percent of those backing him say that.
Rubio is winning his biggest margins from those in the Panhandle (+26 points), those without a college degree (+13 points), and Catholics (+24 points), while the challenger is tied with Rubio among Hispanics and outperforming him among non-whites (+14 points) and those in the Miami area (+5 points). Rubio wins men by 11 points and women by 8 points.
The survey included 953 registered voters who said they'd already cast ballots or plan to do so, including an oversample of 148 Hispanics to allow for a more statistically solid analysis of their views. The margin of error on responses from just Hispanics is plus or minus 6.7 percentage points.
Hispanics represented 17 percent of the Florida electorate in the 2012 presidential election. Trump is winning slightly more support from Hispanics in the Miami area (+2 points), while Clinton is winning 55 percent of their support in the rest of the state.
Her weaker Hispanic showing in the Miami area may be the result of the large Cuban population there. Cuban-Americans have leaned Republican since the 1980s, although the younger generation has shown more openness to Democrats, and Obama and Romney split the group's vote nearly evenly in 2012.
In recent days of Florida campaigning, Trump has taken a tougher stance on Cuban relations, after previously suggesting he supported more open relations with the island nation. Clinton favors lifting the U.S. embargo on Cuba, a reversal of a position she took in her 2008 presidential campaign.
Two in three of Florida's likely voters approve of Obama's moves to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba, including 57 percent of Hispanics.
On immigration policy, 52 percent say a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants is a better approach, while 39 percent select more restrictions and more aggressive enforcement, including deportation of millions living in the U.S. illegally.
The ability of Clinton's vice presidential nominee, Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, to speak fluent Spanish is a factor considered by just 8 percent of likely voters supporting Clinton. That number grows to 20 percent for Hispanics.
With in-person early voting starting this week in Florida, two-thirds say they're either completely or mostly confident that the count for the presidential election will be accurate.
There is, however, strong partisan division on the question in a state famous for hanging chads and a 2000 presidential recount that ultimately led to the presidency to George W. Bush.
Half of Trump's supporters say they're either mostly skeptical or convinced that Florida ballots won't be counted accurately, while 54 percent of Clinton supporters are completely convinced voting counting will be precise.
Just more than half, including 84 percent of Trump's own supporters, aren't bothered by his refusal at the last debate to say that he would accept the results of the election.
Clinton and Trump are both viewed more unfavorably than favorably, with the Democrat viewed positively by 44 percent and the Republican by 46 percent. That compares to 51 percent who view Obama positively and 57 percent who view first lady Michelle Obama that way.
Indiana Governor Mike Pence, the Republican vice presidential nominee, is viewed favorably by 51 percent, including half of independents. Kaine is seen positively by 39 percent and remains slightly less well known than Pence.
In the Senate race, Rubio does relatively well on favorability, with 50 percent viewing him positively and 44 percent negatively. Murphy, who appeared with Clinton Tuesday in Florida, is less well known and is viewed favorably by 38 percent and unfavorably by 31 percent.
Florida Governor Rick Scott, a Republican who endorsed Trump after Rubio exited the presidential primary race, is viewed positively by 47 percent and negatively by 46 percent.
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