While Democrats have been quick to question the methodology of the most recent Quinnipiac University poll, the signs from the poll are too ominous for President Obama’s re-election effort. Mitt Romney has opened a six point lead in the state (47%-41%) and that lead jumps to eight points if Governor Romney selected Senator Marco Rubio as his running mate. If Florida is any indication of the trends in other Southern states outside the deep south, this is bad news for Democrats besides possibly Senator Bill Nelson. This is because President Obama is running well ahead of most Democrats in the other two hotly contested Southern states, North Carolina and Virginia.
This poll coincides with two recent North Carolina polls that show President Obama running well ahead of both Congressional candidates and Lt. Gov Walter Dalton, who has been nominated to replace unpopular Gov. Bev Perdue. President Obama is also running several points ahead of popular former Gov. Tim Kaine, who is running for U.S. Senate in recent Virginia polls.
The Florida poll over-sampled Republicans using the turnout model from 2010 and 2004 as a guide rather than 2008, but I believe this is not entirely flawed logic. An enthusiasm gap exists between Democrats and Republicans approaching this election in Florida. As someone who travels often and talks to apolitical people more than the average political operative, I sense Republicans are far more enthusiastic about this election than the Democrats. The only way I see Obama closing this enthusiasm gap is to embrace a more populist economic message that appeals to liberals and working class people. Any pretense of moderation and centrism has to be dropped in favor of moving to the left and articulating a vision for economic liberation which helps those hurting in these tough economic times. The poll also oversampled Central Florida, but that alone does not account for the dramatic jump in Romney’s numbers since March.
The Q-poll indicates that Floridians approve by a 2 to 1 margin (54%-27%) the job Marco Rubio is doing in the US Senate. At the same time Floridians disapprove of the way President Obama is doing his job by an eight point margin (44%-52%). Romney has also opened up a ten point lead on the issue of who would better handle the economy (50%-40%).
Regardless of how much you want to question the methodology of this poll, the signs of trouble are apparent for Obama and the Democrats. If the current trends in North Carolina and Virginia are any indication, Democrats in critical races could be in big trouble. The DCCC currently has five targeted races in Florida. The DCCC choice Rep. Leonard Bembry (This website has endorsed Al Lawson) in the 2nd Congressional District is likely to run ahead of President Obama, but Alan Grayson, Keith Fitzgerald, Lois Frankel and Patrick Murphy more than likely will run behind the President in their respective districts.
Instead of denying the validity of the Q-poll Democrats should use it to refocus on crafting a winning message and continuing to ramp up its ground game. The Obama Campaign has been well run nationally and should continue that positive work in this state rather than falling into the classic Florida Democratic trap of excuse making, reactionary press releases and negative spin.
NOTE (11:45 am EDT May 24th): Peter Brown of Quinipiac gave this quote to the Palm Beach Post in response to the poll’s criticism “What we’re getting is real-time party ID. And our real-time party ID is different, not surprisingly, from registration,” Brown said Wednesday. “If party registration is an accurate measure of voting behavior, then why do the Republicans control, with the exception of Bill Nelson’s seat, every statewide office?”
I must say that makes a great deal of sense from where I sit. If you eliminate Bill Nelson’s last two campaigns, the Democrats have LOST 15 of the past 16 statewide races. For those scoring at home that means the Republicans have won 94% of the statewide races since 2000 where Bill Nelson wasn’t running. Mathematically, how is that possible in a swing state with a Democratic registration majority? Either one of two things:
1- The Democrats suffer a gap in identification versus party registration. While this is true in north Florida and interior counties such a Polk, it can be argued Republican registration is higher than identification in Sarasota, Pinellas, Orange, Broward and Palm Beach counties.
2- The Democrats lack the infrastructure to turn out voters in closely contested state wide elections.
Either way, Brown has a point.