(CNN) - Two and a half weeks before the first Republican presidential debate in Florida, a new poll indicates that Mitt Romney leads the pack in the battle for the GOP nomination.
According to a Sachs/Mason-Dixon survey, 28 percent of likely Republican primary voters in Florida say they support Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who's making his second bid for the GOP nomination, with 21 percent backing Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who earlier this month launched a run for the White House.
The poll indicates that 13 percent support Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, seven percent support former Godfather's Pizza CEO and radio talk show host Herman Cain, five percent back former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and four percent support Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who's making his third bid for the presidency. Everyone one else is in the low single digits, and 17 percent are undecided.
The survey's release comes two and a half weeks before CNN teams up with the Tea Party Express, a leading national tea party organization, for a GOP presidential debate in Tampa, Florida on September 12. Florida is a very important state in presidential politics. The state's primary date is not yet nailed down, but it's most likely Floridians will vote early in the caucus and primary season. Florida's also a crucial battleground state in the general election and Tampa will be the site of next year's Republican National Convention.
According to the poll, 41 percent of all Floridians say they approve of the job the president's doing in office, with 56 percent saying they disapprove. In hypothetical general election matchups, Romney holds a 51 to 43 percent advantage over Obama, with Perry holding a one point 46 to 45 percent margin over the president, and Obama holding a two point 46 to 44 point advantage over Bachmann. The Perry margin over Obama and the president's margin over Bachmann are both within the poll's sampling error.
Obama won Florida by three percentage points over Sen. John McCain of Arizona in the 2008 presidential election.
"Unlike 2008, if the election were held today, President Obama would face a stiffer headwind to hold on to Florida and its 29 electoral votes against a top-tier Republican challenger – and that could cost him re-election," said Ron Sachs, president of Ron Sachs Communications.
The Sachs/Mason Dixon poll was conducted August 18-22, with 625 registered voters in Florida questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus four percentage points.
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