(CNN) - Hours before the second Republican presidential debate to be held in Florida in the past week and a half, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is slightly ahead of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the Sunshine state, according to a new poll.
The Quinnipiac University survey released Thursday morning also indicates that President Barack Obama's approval rating is at an all time low in a state that will play a crucial role next year in both the GOP nomination battle and the general election.
According to the poll, 28 percent of Republicans and independents who lean toward the GOP say if the Florida primary were held today, they'd support Perry, who launched his bid for the White House last month and quickly became the front-runner in national polling. Twenty-two percent say they'd back Romney, who's making his second run for the nomination and who was the front-runner in national polling before Perry entered the race. Every other candidate registered in single digits in the survey.
The poll is the first in Florida to be conducted since the Republican candidates faced off on the same stage at a CNN/Tea Party Republican debate on September 12 in Tampa. The candidates meet again Thursday night at a Fox News/Republican Party of Florida debate in Orlando.
Quinnipiac last polled in Florida in early August, before Perry entered the race. Romney has barely moved since that survey and Perry has jumped 15 points.
Florida is expected to hold its primary early in the primary and caucus season and should be a crucial state in choosing the Republican nominee. Florida is also expected to continue to be an extremely important battleground state in next year's general election.
According to the survey, 57 percent of all Florida voters say they disapprove of how the president's handling his duties, with 39 percent giving Obama a thumbs up on what he's doing in the White House. That's the worst score for the president in Quinnipiac polling in Florida. By a 53 to 41 percent margin, Sunshine state voters say that Obama doesn't deserve a second term as president.
In hypothetical 2012 general election matchups, Romney has a 47 to 40 percent margin over the president, with Obama holding a 44 to 42 percent margin over Perry, which is well within the poll's sampling error. The poll indicates that the president leads Perry by six points among independent voters, with Romney topping Obama by nine points among independents.
"Gov. Rick Perry has the lead – and the momentum – among Florida Republicans, while former Gov. Mitt Romney can point to a better general election showing," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
The Quinnipiac University poll was conducted September 14-19, with 1,007 registered voters in Florida questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, with a sampling error of plus or minus 5.1 percentage points for questions only directed to Republicans and independents who lean toward the GOP.
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Poll: Romney overwhelming front-runner in N.H.
Poll: Majority of Americans blame Obama for economy
Perry is the nominee
President Obama can win a second term without Florida–it only went democratic in 2008, so touting Florida's influence is a bit premature. Wait to see who the Republican candidate will be, then you can talk about polls all you want.
Perry would be George W. #2. Scary.
all those retires need to do is look at there stocks...down another 300 points today...obama is done...
I florida independent. If Perry wins the nomination, Obama gets my vote. If Rommey gets it. I'll give him a shot. Another texas good ol boy with a penchant for mixing religion with government just don't cut it. Rommey needs to get more in the center on social issues though. Embrace Rommycare man, don't run from it. To a lot of people who don't align themselves with the teaparty mentality you score points
I don't believe that if a republican gets into office that there will be a good change in the economy. They will keep trying to take from the middle class and the poor. I have never seen any good come out a republican when in office. People want to blame Obama for everything when he has to try to clean up the mess that Bush left. So if we get a republican in office get ready because you think its bad now it will be even worse. The rich will be richer and the middle class will fall to poor.
No Reoublicans, period! We can't afford them catering to the wealthy anymore. Over the last 30 years their trickle down policies (which of course never trickle) have destroyed this country by destroying the middle class. Their big plans to recovery is to do exactly what got us here to begin with, except even more extreme!
No, No, No Republicans! Vote out each and every one.
Comments like: 'Perry would be George W. #2 seem a little naive to me. W is largely the product of Cheney Romney, Wolfowitz, and others from the first Bush administration, though lacking the moderating influence of the first Bush.
God (whoever he/she is) only knows what kind of idiot advisers Perry would bring along, but yes, it is scary. And in the way that w made the elder Bush seem so much better, to me at least, I think Perry would make w seem, well, at least not so bad, in perspective.
And on a further note, ALL of the repug candidates are a little scary, in their own individual ways.
NONE of them could have turned the economy around the way President Obama did.
Do you remember where the stock market was when President Obama took office. The market is UP about 70%. In less than 3 years. AWESOME!
It would be much higher if some European countries were more responsible.
People are making a big mistake supporting Governor "Good Hair" Perry. In Perry's book "Fed Up", he states that Social Security is unconstitutional and a "Ponzi scheme. He now says it's not meant to reflect his views today" Heck, /the book was written in November of last year! Texas unemployment rate up to 8.5%, August 2011, the highest unemployment rate in Texas since the oil bust of the 80s.
Why are you guys at CNN completely ignoring Ron Paul? There are almost no mentions of him anywhere. What kind of journalism are you practicing? Why are you telling us who are the front runners by simply picking and choosing the polls that fit the story? What about the many polls that put RON PAUL ahead of the other two?
Romney would give Republicans the best shot at winning states like New Hampshire and perhaps Pennsylvania in a general election. Everything I've seen from Perry so far is painfully reminiscent of George W. Bush. A swaggering and inarticulate Texas Governor with a passive attitude about illegal immigration. That's not a recipe for a GOP victory in 2012. Romney is the smart choice.