Barack Obama, Mitt Romney Mason-Dixon Poll shows dead heat in Florida

(CNN) -- A new poll released Sunday indicates the presidential race in Florida is razor thin between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

Forty-eight percent of likely voters back the president, while 47% support the Republican presidential nominee, according to the poll conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research and commissioned by the Miami Herald and the Tampa Bay Times.

The one point margin falls well within the poll's sampling error.

"It's still very much a toss-up. It's a turnout game," Brad Coker, who conducted the survey for Mason-Dixon, told the Tampa Bay Times.

The margin is also slightly smaller than CNN's Poll of Polls in Florida, which averages the Mason Dixon survey along with two other polls conducted of likely voters in the state over the past two weeks. It indicates Obama has 49% support, while Romney has 45%.

The Mason-Dixon poll was conducted Sept. 17-19, the same days that a secretly recorded video emerged of Romney making controversial comments at a Florida fund-raiser in May. The story dominated the news cycle for a large part of the week.

Florida represents a crucial battleground where both candidates spend extensive amounts of time and money courting the state's 29 electoral votes. Obama and Romney, as well as Romney's running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, and Obama's wife, Michelle, have all traveled to the Sunshine State within the last 10 days for campaign stops.

CNN's Electoral Map also rates Florida as one of the nine toss-up states in the 2012 presidential race.

With the state's high population of seniors, Medicare amounts to one of the biggest talking points on the trail in Florida. While Romney has been playing defense on his proposal to overhaul the system and offer a subsidy-based option, the new poll Sunday shows the two candidates are fairly even on the issue. Asked who they trust more to keep Medicare financially stable, 49% of voters chose Obama, while 47% picked Romney.

The poll also indicates Obama leading among Hispanic voters, a crucial voting bloc in the state. Perhaps more significant, the president has a double-digit advantage--11 points--over Romney among independent voters--a margin that has increased by six points for Obama since the poll was last conducted in July.

Also of note, Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson pulls one percent of support when factored in with Obama and Romney. While the long shot White House hopeful has no chance of winning the presidential election, his turnout could influence the results on Election Day with the race being so close.

Mason-Dixon interviewed 800 likely Florida voters by telephone between September 17 and 19. The sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Along with The Miami Herald and the Tampa Bay Times, the survey was conducted for El Nuevo Herald, Bay News 9 and Central Florida News 13.

CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

 
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