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 shows.
The Republican presidential nominee has 45 percent to Democrat Hillary Clinton’s 43 percent among likely voters when third-party candidates are included, the poll found. 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.
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.”
In the U.S. Senate race, Republican incumbent Marco Rubio leads Democratic Rep. 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.