BY JIM TURNER
THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA
TALLAHASSEE – As both major presidential campaigns blanket Florida in the final weeks before the Nov. 8 election, Democrat Hillary Clinton’s lead over Republican Donald Trump in the state is down to three points, according to a poll released Wednesday by Florida Atlantic University.
Clinton leads Trump by a margin of 46 percent to 43 percent in the poll, which was conducted from Friday to Sunday. That is down from a six-point lead in an FAU poll released Oct. 13. Trump was up by 2 percentage points in an August poll.
Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party nominee Jill Stein were each under 3 percent, and 6 percent of voters were undecided.
The poll also showed Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio up by four percentage points in his race with Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy, with 12 percent of voters undecided.
Rubio leads Murphy by a margin of 46 percent to 42 percent, according to the poll.
Early vote lead
Kevin Wagner, an associate professor of political science, said the contest will come down to which candidate – both with high unfavorable ratings – can motivate supporters to vote.
“Secretary Clinton is building a substantial lead among the early voters in our sample,” Wagner said in a prepared statement. “That could create a difficult lead to overcome for Mr. Trump on Election Day.”
Early voting started Monday in much of the state. After the first two days, 256,593 Democrats had gone to the polls, compared to 225,962 Republicans, according to the state Division of Elections.
Another 89,273 independents and 13,530 third-party voters also cast early voting ballots.
Meanwhile, Republicans had the edge among Floridians who have cast vote-by-mail ballots, up 606,144 to 569,783 over registered Democrats.
Voters, not votes
The numbers from the state elections office only provide registration information about the voters – not how they actually voted.
Mirroring other surveys, Trump has a 17-point advantage among White voters and a 24-point lead in northern Florida. Clinton, who has a commanding 68 percent to 26 percent lead in South Florida, is up nine points among women, 49 points with African-Americans and Hispanics and 16 points with independents.
The poll of 500 likely voters by the Boca Raton university’s Business and Economics Polling Initiative has a margin of error of 4.3 percentage points.