Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Nelson up double digits

Different month, same story when it comes to Bill Nelson's poll numbers: his approval rating is mediocre but he has a double digit lead over all of his Republican opponents.

38% of voters approve of the job Nelson's doing to 31% who disapprove. The most striking number continues to be those with no opinion- even after more than a decade in the Senate 31% don't feel strongly enough to rate Nelson one way or another.

Nelson continues to have solid numbers with independents (43/29) and 27% of the Republicans who have an opinion about him approve of the job he's doing, well ahead of the curve for your average Democratic Senator. What holds down his overall numbers is a lack of enthusiasm for him from his own party base- just 53% of Democrats give him good marks to 19% who disapprove. You're usually going to see a Senator more in the 70-80% approval range within his own party.

Democrats may not be in love with Nelson- but they're still pretty strongly committed to voting for him- and that combined with a persistent lead with independents gives him a double digit advantage over his potential Republican foes. He's up 11 points on George LeMieux at 46-35 and has identical 12 point leads over Mike Haridopolos and Adam Hasner at 47-35. Nelson pulls in 13-14% of the GOP vote in each of those match ups while losing only 7-8% of the Democrats. He also leads independents by a small margin over LeMieux (3 points) and a wider one over Haridopolos and Hasner (15 points.)

There are some positive points the Republicans can take out of these poll numbers. Nelson led LeMieux by 15 and Hasner and Haridopolos by 16 when we last looked at Florida in March, so there's been a 4 point across the board reduction in Nelson's lead since then. And the GOP candidates certainly have plenty of room to grow, given that they're pretty much completely unknown at this point. 34% have an opinion about LeMieux and that goes down to 28% for Haridopolos and 22% for Hasner. They're likely to chop a few points off Nelson's lead as they become better known.

All that said I continue to think that Nelson's vulnerability has been over blown. That approval number in the 30s is enticing for Republicans but it's largely because Democrats who will vote for him anyway aren't in love with him- and when you combine that with pretty solid numbers with independents and GOP voters, it's a formula for reelection.

Full results here


The Interesting Times said...

This is probably going to be the toughest election battle of Nelson's career.

Although the chances of the Republicans actually beating him are overstated, the 50% rule should give the Nelson campaign cause for concern.

Dustin Ingalls said...

If I had a nickel for every time an incumbent who polled under 50% a year and a half before an election was re-elected, I'd be Warren Buffett.

The Interesting Times said...

Point taken. Maybe we should call it the "50% suggestion" instead.

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