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Latest polls show Bill McCollum, Charlie Crist cruising

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Republican Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum leads the state’s Chief Financial Officer, Democrat Alex Sink, 38 – 34 percent, among registered voters in the 2010 governor’s race, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

This reverses a 38 – 34 percent Sink lead in a June 9 survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University. The key is among independent voters who shift from 32 – 27 percent for McCollum June 9 to 38 – 23 percent today.

Gov. Charlie Crist leads former state House Speaker Marco Rubio 55 – 26 percent for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate, compared to 54 – 23 percent margin June 10. The three potential candidates for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination, U.S. Reps. Kendrick Meek, Ron Klein and Corrine Brown, are bunched together and largely unknown to most Floridians.

“Bill McCollum has been on the ballot in Florida for decades in various campaigns and this exposure to the voters seems to be serving him well,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “Floridians know him better than they do Ms. Sink, who first ran for office in 2006. When voters are asked to rate him personally and in his job performance as attorney general he gets strongly positive ratings.”

Florida voters rate McCollum 42 percent favorably, 13 percent unfavorably. Even Democrats give him a narrow 26 – 23 percent thumbs up. Asked about how he is handling his job as Attorney General, 53 percent approve and 16 percent disapprove. Among Democrats he has a healthy 43 – 26 percent approval rating, and scores 52 – 15 percent among independents.

By comparison, Ms. Sink gets a 23 – 8 percent favorability, while 68 percent don’t know enough about her to form an opinion. Florida voters approve 37 – 21 percent of Sink’s performance as CFO, with 42 percent undecided. She gets a 31 – 20 percent job approval rating from Republicans and a 36 – 21 percent score from independent voters.

“Ms. Sink’s numbers indicate she has made a good first impression on Florida voters, but a much larger share of the electorate does not know her compared to McCollum,” said Brown.

Crist’s lead over Rubio in a GOP primary shows no gender gap as 56 percent of women and 53 percent of men support him. His 60 – 30 percent job approval as governor, while his highest disapproval ever, shows that his support extends well beyond his Republican base.

Among Republicans, the only ones who can vote in a GOP primary, his rating is 66 – 28 percent. His strength as a general election candidate stems from his 54 – 35 percent positive rating from Democrats and 63 – 27 percent grade among independents.

“History is not rife with examples of governors with 60 percent job approval ratings, including 66 percent in their own party and 54 percent from the opposition party, being defeated when they sought U.S. Senate seats. Obviously, we have 15 months until the election and a year before the Republican primary, but Gov. Crist remains in very strong shape,” said Brown.

U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson and Mel Martinez also record their highest disapproval numbers ever, 47 – 28 percent for Nelson and 37 – 39 percent for Martinez.

The competition for the Democratic nomination to oppose the Crist-Rubio winner remains wide open: Meek gets 18 percent, with 12 percent for Klein, 9 percent for Brown and 57 percent undecided. Each of the three is so unknown to most Florida voters that 80 percent or more have no opinion of them.

“Whoever wins the party nomination has a long way to go to introduce themselves to voters outside of their individual congressional districts,” said Brown.

From August 12 – 17, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,136 Florida voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.9 percentage points. The survey includes 446 Republicans with a margin of error of +/- 4.6 percentage points and 434 Democrats with a margin of error of +/- 4.7 percentage points.

The Quinnipiac University Poll, directed by Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D., conducts public opinion surveys in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, Ohio and the nation as a public service and for research. For more data or RSS feed – http://www.quinnipiac.edu/polling.xml, or call (203) 582-5201.

1. (If registered Democrat) If the 2010 Democratic primary for United States Senator were being held today and the candidates were Corrine Brown, Ron Klein and Kendrick Meek, for whom would you vote?

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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