Whoa! Rasmussen poll has Connie Mack at 43%, Nelson at 36%

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Republican Congressman Connie Mack now posts a seven-point lead over Democratic Senator Bill Nelson in Florida’s U.S. Senate race, and the incumbent remains just ahead of his other two potential GOP rivals.

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in Florida shows Mack with 43% support to Nelson’s 36%. Five percent (5%) like another candidate in the race, and a sizable 16% are undecided.

A month ago, Mack and Nelson were tied at 41% apiece. Last November, Mack, a congressman from the Fort Myers/Naples area of the state, led 43% to 39%.

If former U.S. Senator George LeMieux is the Republican candidate, Nelson is ahead by a narrow 41% to 38%. That compares to 45%-35% last month. Five percent (5%) now prefer another candidate given that matchup. Seventeen percent (17%) are undecided. Then-Governor Charlie Crist named LeMieux to the Senate in September 2009 to complete the term of Senator Mel Martinez who resigned from office early. LeMieux chose not to seek a full Senate term in the 2010 elections because of Crist’s decision to run. Crist was defeated by Marco Rubio.

Nelson now leads businessman Mike McCalister, the other top GOP hopeful, 42% to 38%. Given this matchup, four percent (4%) favor another candidate, and 15% are undecided. This is essentially unchanged from a month ago.

Nelson has been a member of the Senate since 2000 when he won the contest to fill the seat vacated by the retirement of Mack’s father. Florida Republicans will pick their Senate candidate in an August 14 primary.

This Florida survey of 500 Likely Voters was conducted on March 13, 2012 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 4.5 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.

Nelson is viewed Very Favorably by 20% of Florida voters and Very Unfavorably by 23%.

For Mack, Very Favorables and Very Unfavorables are both 15%. Seven percent (7%) share a Very Favorable opinion of LeMiuex, while 20% view him Very Unfavorably. McCalister is seen Very Favorably by five percent (5%), Very Unfavorably by 15%.

Unfavorables are up seven points for Nelson from last month at this time and up five for LeMieux. The numbers for the others are basically unchanged. At this point in a campaign, Rasmussen Reports considers the number of people with strong opinions more significant than the total favorable/unfavorable numbers.

All three Republicans lead among male voters, while Nelson is out front among female voters. The GOP hopefuls are ahead among married voters but trail among unmarrieds.

Mack and Nelson are now almost tied among voters not affiliated with either of the major political parties, but the incumbent leads LeMieux and McCalister among these voters.

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.