Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney greets audience members at a campaign stop at Jet Machine in Cincinnati, Ohio October 25, 2012. (Photo : Reuters)
While North Carolina may be shifting back toward being a solid swing state, new polls show Republican challenger Mitt Romney solidifying his small lead in Florida.
A Sunshine State News/VSS poll out Friday shows Romney with a 5-point lead over President Obama in the notorious swing state, 51 percent to 46 percent.
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On Thursday, a Gravis poll also showed Romney leading there, although his margin was just 1 point, 50 percent to 49 percent.
Florida has been moving slowly in Romney's direction since his overwhelming win in the first presidential debate on Oct. 3.
RealClearPolitics gives Romney a lead slightly larger than 2 points over Obama in the state right now. FiveThirtyEight put Romney at a 64.7 percent chance to take Florida's 29 electoral votes on Election Day.
Florida is essentially a must-win for Romney. Without it, he falls far short of the 270 electoral votes he needs to win the presidency, and losing the state would leave such a large gap that he'd need to sweep nearly every other state currently in play, a task that seems all but impossible as the map currently stands.
While North Carolina and Virginia are more similar to each other geographically and demographically, Florida more closely resembles Colorado, at least when it comes to predictions for November.
The large elderly population votes consistently Republican, but influential Latino votes could pull the state into the blue column this year.
The Obama campaign is ramping up another push among Latino voters nationwide. A new Spanish-language ad features First Lady Michelle Obama.
But Florida's Latino population is more reliably conservative than Colorado's. While Puerto Ricans, Central and South Americans, and most Caribbean Latinos tend to vote Democrat, the Cuban-American population still stands with the GOP.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio stumps for Romney, and he introduced the candidate at the Republican National Convention in August.
Romney has a difficult decision to make regarding Florida. The state looks like it might safely be his, so he could reapportion resources to other swing states like Ohio or Colorado.
But if Obama pushes in Florida after Romney stops, the Democrats could have a chance to keep it blue, like they did in 2008.
Even with Florida, Romney needs Ohio to keep Obama at bay, else he'll need to make a strong showing in the rest of the swing states.
But Obama is polling well in Nevada and Iowa, and Pennsylvania will probably be called for the president soon.
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