New poll shows GOP incumbents Steve Southerland, Bill Young in danger because of shutdown

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Shutting down the government may end up costing two Florida Republicans their seats in Congress  — and with it GOP control of the House of Representatives.

A series of polls released Sunday show just how damaging the shutdown has been for the GOP, including incumbents Steve Southerland (FL CD2) and C.W. Bill Young (FL CD 13).

The Democrat-leaning Public Policy Polling compiled two dozen surveys from House districts around the country, taken from Oct. 2 through Oct. 4. Sample sizes were between 600 and 700 voters in each district.

The results for Southerland and Young should be enough to sound warning bells in each of their campaigns.

In Southerland’s North Florida district, his approval rating is upside down 41 to 44 percent. In a ballot test of Southerland vs. an unnamed “Democratic opponent”, Southerland trails by four points, 43 to 47 percent.

Democrat Gwen Graham, the daughter of former governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham, is already running a spirited campaign against Southerland.

The government shutdown — framed by the poll as shutting down major activities of the federal government as a way to stop the health care law from being put into place — is opposed 60 to 32 percent of Congressional District 2 voters.

Southerland’s numbers get worse once respondents are told Southerland supported the government shutdown. Under that scenario, Southerland trails the unnamed Democrat 41 to 50 percent.

(Quick caveat: 51% of  the respondents in this poll self-identify as Democrat, 34% Republican, and 16% Independent.) 

In Congressional District 13, the Tampa Bay TimesJohn Romano framed Young’s dire situation in a must-read Sunday column in which he criticizes Young for ‘abandoning’ John Boehner in order “to fall in step behind the smug tea party frat boys.”

The poll numbers bear out Romano’s assessment, suggesting that Young, indeed, is in electoral trouble.

Young’s district opposes the shutdown 67 to 28 percent, while disapproving of the 42-year member of Congress’ job performance 46% disapprove to 33% approve. In a ballot test between Young and an unnamed Democrat, Young trails 43 to 48 percent. The margin is 42 to 51 percent when respondents are told of Young’s support for the government shutdown.  

Young is currently opposed by Democrat Jessica Ehrlich, whom Young easily dispatched in 2012.

For Democrats to win a House majority, 17 seats would need to switch to their party’s favor. 

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.