Poll: Romney up in key I-4 corridor in Florida

A Tampa Bay Times/Bay News 9 survey released Sunday shows Romney winning 51 percent support to Obama’s 45 among registered voters along Florida’s I-4 corridor. 

The stretch of the state running from Tampa Bay on the Gulf Coast to Daytona Beach in the east is seen as a crucial area for winning the state’s swing voters, and the poll suggests the key swing state is moving toward Romney. 

Romney’s strong showing there gives him a strong foothold to capture the state, said Brad Coker of Mason Dixon Polling and Research, which conducted the poll. 

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“Being that this is I-4, the Florida battleground, the region of the state that usually tells you how it's going to come out, for Romney to be up 6 points right now … they should be able to call Florida as soon as the polls close in Pensacola, if they do their exit polling right,” Coker said in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times.

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said she didn't agree with the poll results, however, and the Obama campaign is fighting hard to keep Florida's 29 electoral votes. 

"Well, we're not going to lose the I-4 corridor, and we don't agree with those numbers. And if you look at the enthusiasm turnout in the I-4 corridor, we beat the Republicans in early voting this weekend in Hillsborough County, which is one end of the I-4 corridor," Wasserman Schultz said on MSNBC. 

"We beat them in Orange County as well, and if you even look at Seminole County, which also has a significant Republican advantage, we beat them, just barely, in early voting turnout. So we're running up numbers that are going to ensure President Obama carries the I-4 corridor and carries the state of Florida."

The two campaigns are fighting over more than a half-dozen swing states. Romney appears to have an advantage in North Carolina and Florida, and polls have moved toward the Republican in several other battlegrounds as well. 

In Florida, both campaigns have focused their efforts in the state on winning voters in the corridor.

The poll found voters trust Romney more on the economy, the central issue this campaign. Fifty-two percent surveyed said Romney would do better, with 44 tapping the president. A majority also trusted Romney more to protect the middle class, by 52-46.

On foreign policy, Romney holds a slight edge, trusted by 50 percent of voters to Obama at 48. The third and final presidential debate last Monday, focusing on foreign policy, was held in the state at Lynn University in Boca Raton.

Romney leads among independent voters, 49-41. The GOP nominee also holds a strong lead among men, by 16 points. While Obama leads with female voters 50 percent to 46, that margin is not as strong as in other states.

Both candidates have a net positive favorability, with 52 percent of voters rating Romney favorably to 39 unfavorable. Forty-seven percent view Obama unfavorably, with 44 favorable. 

The survey, conducted from Oct. 22-24, has a 4-point margin of error.

This story was posted at 6:08 a.m. and updated at 9:54 a.m.