Two new polls show tightening Florida Senate race between Nelson, Mackby George Bennett | May 24th, 2012
Sustained character attacks from Republican primary rival George LeMieux and fretting by some GOP activists about his campaign don’t appear to have damaged U.S. Rep. Connie Mack‘s Senate bid, according to new polls from Quinnipiac University and NBC News-Marist.
The Quinnipiac poll shows a virtual tie between Mack and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, with Mack up by a 42-to-41 percent margin that’s within the poll’s 2.4 percent margin of error. In the GOP primary, Quinnipiac has Mack clobbering LeMieux by a 40-to-7 percent margin.
The NBC-Marist poll gives Nelson a 46-to-42 percent lead over Mack. That poll has a 3 percent margin of error.
Both new polls suggest the race has tightened since last month, when a Rasmussen poll gave Nelson an 11-point lead and a poll by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling showed Nelson up by 10 points. Quinnipiac’s last poll on the race in late March had Nelson up by 8 points.
The new Quinnipiac poll is based on a sample that Democrats criticized on Wednesday as too tilted to the GOP.
Quinnipiac surveyed 1,722 Florida voters May 15-21. Using the same sample, Quinnipiac released results Wednesday showing Mitt Romney with a 6-point lead over President Obama in Florida. Democrats howled, noting that while Dems hold a 40-to-36 percent statewide edge in voter registration, the weighted sample in the Quinnipiac poll was 34 percent Republican and 31 percent Democrat.
Quinnipiac’s Peter Brown defended the poll, saying the way voters self-identify their party affiliation is a better gauge than how voters are actually registered.
“What we’re getting is real-time party ID. And our real-time party ID is different, not surprisingly, from registration,” Brown said Wednesday. “If party registration is an accurate measure of voting behavior, then why do the Republicans control, with the exception of Bill Nelson’s seat, every statewide office?”
Marist’s sample tilts more Democratic than statewide registrations, with 43 percent of respondents saying they are registered as Democrats and 35 percent Republican.
The Marist poll finds Obama defeating Romney by a 48-to-44 percent margin in Florida.