Time to hit the panic button: Greene & Scott open big leads in primaries

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Cribbin’ my blogging crush, The Reid Report: The new Quinnipiac poll has some news you’d expect — Rick Scott is still ahead of Bill McCollum — and some things that well, you’d also expect, since he’s spending so much money and flooding the zone with advertising. Namely, Jeff Greene has pulled ahead of Kendrick Meek.

From the latest Quinnipiac University poll (July 22 – 27, 760 Republican likely primary voters, +/- 3.6% MOE; 782 Democratic likely primary voters, +/- 3.5% MOE)

Florida businessman Rick Scott holds a 43 – 32 percent lead over State Attorney General Bill McCollum for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, according to a Quinnipiac University poll of likely primary voters released today. Another 23 percent are undecided and 43 percent of those who do name a candidate say they might change their mind.

In the race for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate, businessman Jeff Greene has jumped to a 33 – 23 percent lead over U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, with former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre at 4 percent. But 35 percent are undecided and 54 percent of those who name a candidate say they might change their mind.

… “If there was any doubt that enough money can make a political unknown into a front- runner, the Democratic Senate primary and the Republican primary for governor should lay them to rest,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

“Both Greene and Scott have come from nowhere to hold double-digit leads with just a little more than three weeks until the voting.”

“Anything can happen in the interim, but since their opponents are unlikely to outspend them down the home stretch, they are both in enviable positions,” Brown added. “Both men also are being helped by the national anti-incumbent, anti-establishment wave evident in other primaries. Both men have battled their respective party hierarchies, quite successfully at this point.”

The good news for McCollum in the poll is that things are not getting worse. In fact, McCollum has gained a point and Scott has lost a point since the June 10 poll. The bad news for McCollum is that 55 percent of likely GOP voters say they have made up their minds.

Rick Scott’s unfavorables have gone up since the last poll:

Jul 29 Jun 10
2010 2010

Favorable 39 40
Unfavorable 26 12
Hvn’t hrd enough 31 46

What is interesting about the poll is that it shows how polarized the parties are when it comes to the baseline question of what they want in a candidate.

Republican likely voters in the poll, by a margin of 54 – 28 percent, said they prefer a “government outsider” to “someone with years of government experience.”

Democrats, on the other hand, Democratic likely voters by 44 – 35 percent said they would “prefer a candidate with long government experience.” That tells me the preference in the poll for Greene is soft, and that it could actually indicate an advantage in the long run for Charlie Crist.

The poll also shows that Rick Scott is more closely aligned to the likely GOP voter base than Greene is to the likely Democratic base.

Some Scott internals:

  • Among likely Republican primary voters, Scott is viewed favorably by 39 percent, unfavorably by 26 percent, compared to McCollum’s split 34 – 34 percent favorability rating;
  • Asked which candidate would do a better job rebuilding Florida’s economy, Scott leads by almost two-to-one, 45 – 23 percent;
  • Voters believe Scott shares their values more than McCollum, 38 – 26 percent;
  • They see Scott as more consistently conservative, 38 – 26 percent.

With Greene, the numbers reflect that his advert blitz has caused more Democrats to know who he is, than know who Meek is, by a small margin:

Greene’s favorability among likely Democratic primary voters is 31 – 18 percent, with 47 percent who say they don’t know enough about him to form an opinion. Meek gets a 28 – 13 percent favorability, with 55 percent who don’t know enough about him.

By 26 – 21 percent they say Greene most shares their values, with 46 percent undecided. By 22 – 16 percent they say Meek is more consistently liberal, with 57 percent undecided.

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.