The election in November may come down to just three or four key states, and none of them as big as Florida.  The diverse electorate and the high total of electoral votes make it a must-win for Mitt Romney and almost as important for Barack Obama, who won the state in 2008.  Rasmussen’s latest Florida poll, out today, shows a virtual tie between the two, with Romney edging Obama by one point:

A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in the Sunshine State finds Romney with 46% of the vote, while Obama earns 45% support. Six percent (6%) prefer some other candidate, and another three percent (3%) are undecided.  (To see survey question wording, click here.)

In mid-March, the president held a three-point advantage over Romney, 46% to 43%. Obama led by a similar 47% to 44% margin inearly February.

Nationally, with Rick Santorum out of the Republican race and Newt Gingrich soon to quit, Romney has been running slightly ahead of the president in most daily matchups in recent weeks.

In case you’re wondering, the D/R/I of this sample is 33/33/35.  In 2008, the turnout in Florida was 37/34/29 according to the CNN exit poll, but in the 2010 midterms, it was 36/36/29.  In this case, Rasmussen might have slightly oversampled independents, but the relationship between Republicans and Democrats in this model looks sound.

That oversample might have helped Romney just a little, as he leads among independents 47/38, a bad sign for Obama’s chances in the Sunshine State.  Obama has a wide lead among women at 55/37, but Romney has an even greater lead among men., 58/31, besting the gender gap total by nine points in the gaps.  Obama wins the youth vote (18-39YOs) by only 12 points at 50/38, a surprisingly close score, while Romney wins majorities in the other two age demos, beating Obama by eight points among seniors, 52/44. Married votes support Romney 55/36, while singles back Obama 55/30.  The income demos are mixed, with each candidate getting three of the six categories.  Interestingly, Romney wins the under-$20K category by a wide margin, 53/40.

The rest of the poll shows bad news for Obama.  Only 9% rate the economy as good, and no one calls it excellent.  Fifty-two percent call it poor; 49% of independents think so, too.  A narrow plurality of voters think the economy is getting worse than better, 43/37.  A majority wants ObamaCare overturned, 50/35, and 59% oppose the individual mandate.  Obama is slightly underwater on job approval 49/51.

However, his biggest problem in this poll is the topline number.  After the bruising Republican primary, one might have thought that Obama’s re-elect number would have been much higher as the incumbent who rode above the fray.  A 45% result at this stage isn’t a decisive indicator of losing the state, but it’s a bad result at this stage, with Romney just now starting to unite the GOP behind him.