Though some may placate themselves by saying it's "Just Rasmussen," a new poll published by Rasmusen Reports Wednesday shows incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Bill Nelson trailing Connie Mack for the first time in head-to-head polls, by a margin of 46-37 percent.
Democrats have previously charged that Rasmussen's polls skew slightly more conservative than the mainstream, though his supporters claim he's one of the most accurate pollsters. Rasmussen says his polls are different because he polls only "likely" voters, and not just registered ones. (Conversely, some allege Public Policy Polling skews Democratic. Last month it had Nelson up by 13 points over Mack).
The poll is dramatic in that while most head-to-head match-ups have had Mack up by a point or two, they were also statistically too close to call. In fact, this result is a big flip for Rasmussen, which back in April had the results the complete opposite, with Nelson up 47-36 over Mack.
Cl did report two weeks ago that Mack could very well be the beneficiary of the collective conservative anger nationally over the Supreme Court's ruling in support of President Obama's Affordable Care Act. The reason? Republicans say that they can overturn the law in Congress next year by reconciliation, which would require only 51 votes in the Senate, not 60.
With a current four-vote majority for Democrats in the Senate (51-47, with two independents), Mack can make the campaign national by saying that the vote in Florida could decide the power of the Senate, thus drawing more contributions from across the country, which will allow him to run more ads skewering Nelson for his (in truth, tepid) support of the health care bill.
One alarming stat in the poll: While Mack IV gets 86 percent support from fellow Republicans, Nelson is backed by just 66 percent of his fellow Democrats. We're not sure what this means. Nelson's been in politics for four decades, and is the highest ranking Democrat in terms of power in all of Florida.
Nelson lucked out in 2006 when he ended up facing Sarasota area Congresswoman Katherine Harris for the seat. Harris was one of the worst candidates to run a statewide campaign in recent history, and Nelson demolished her six years ago.
For the longest time in this campaign, Mack has seemed, if not in Harris' league, not much of an improvement. Even today one can say that there probably aren't that many voters who know of his "Penny Plan" to help reduce the deficit.
No, Connie Mack's greatest asset is his name. Many Republicans associate him with his dad, a two-term U.S. GOP Senator for Florida from 1988-2000. Or they may even confuse him with his great-grandfather, the former skipper for the Philadelphia A's baseball team from 80 years ago. But it's this name recognition that helped him take a huge lead over all of his GOP opponents when he entered the race late last year, and made him the de facto candidate after George LeMieux dropped out of the race last month. (Former Congressman Dave Weldon is the best known candidate in the GOP race still standing.)
For Florida Democrats, there is plenty of time to get the base primed to back Nelson come November. But they better start getting their act together now.