McCain, Clinton Lead in Fla. Poll

Thursday, 17 Jan 2008 07:53 AM

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Strategic Vision, LLC, an Atlanta-based public relations and public affairs agency, announced the results of a three-day poll of likely voters in Florida on various political issues. In the poll, 42% (605 respondents) identified themselves as Republicans; 40% (577 respondents) identified themselves as Democrats; and 18% (268 respondents) identified themselves as independents or other party affiliation. The poll has a margin of error of ±3 percentage points.

The poll asked Republican respondents their choices for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2008. The results were, Arizona Senator John McCain 27%; former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee 20%; former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani 18%; former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney 17%; former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson 10%; Texas Congressman Ron Paul 5%; California Congressman Duncan Hunter 1%; and 2% undecided.

“The Republican race continues to remain highly volatile, with a new leader emerging” said Johnson. “John McCain who had fallen as far as fifth in earlier polls has rebounded and now leads. He draws heavily among Republicans who identify the war in Iraq as a major issue and among Republicans who consider themselves to be moderate. He polls strongly in North Florida and the

I-4 Corridor. Huckabee polls very strongly among evangelical voters and his strongest areas of support are in Ocala and North Florida.

“Giuliani has fallen dramatically since our earlier polls and this is the first time that he has trailed,” continued Johnson. “He has lost significant support to McCain and leads only in South Florida. Also nearly a third of his supporters indicated that they may change their mind before the primary. However, a large portion of the Giuliani decline could be attributed to his early losses and in a volatile and chaotic race, his support may return particularly if McCain were to lose South Carolina.

“Romney has made significant gains despite his lackluster start and is polling very well in heavily Republican areas such as Sarasota, Ft. Myers, and Naples,” concluded Johnson. “He has also gained support at the expense of Thompson.”

When Republicans were asked how important it was for their presidential candidate to be conservative in the mode of Ronald Reagan, 47% said very important; 28% said somewhat important; 5% said not very important; 14% said not important; and 6% were undecided.

“The candidate who can best identify with this desire for a Reagan-like candidate will be the one who can win,” said Johnson. “At this point none of the candidates seem to be succeeding in persuading voters that they are this person.”

The poll asked Democrats their choice for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2008. New York Senator Hillary Clinton led with 45%; Illinois Senator Barack Obama 39%; former North Carolina Senator John Edwards with 11%; Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich received 1%; and 4% undecided.

“Clinton lost support over the past month with Obama making strong gains among African-American voters and also Hispanic voters,” said Johnson. “Clinton’s voters resemble the Mondale coalition over Gary Hart in many ways, older, less educated, and lower income. African-American women are breaking heavy for Obama. Were Edwards not in the race, it is very likely that his voters would shift to Obama and give him the lead.”

When democratic voters asked what was most important to them, a candidate who represented change or one with experience, 47% said change, 31% said experience, and 22% were undecided.

“The number of Democrats seeking change over experience favors Obama with voters 55 or older opting for experience,” said Johnson.

The results of the poll showed that 35% of those polled approved of President Bush’s overall job performance; with 59% disapproving; and 6% undecided. When asked to rate the President’s handling of the economy, 21% approved; 62% disapproved; and 17% were undecided. On the issue of Iraq, the poll found 30% approved of the President’s handling; with 59% disapproving; and 11% undecided. When asked on the President’s handling of the war on terrorism, the poll found that 55% approved, 40% disapproved, and 5% were undecided.

“The President’s numbers declined slightly since our December poll with the economy replacing Iraq as his Achilles heel,” said David E. Johnson, CEO of Strategic Vision, LLC. “His approval for handling the war in Iraq, while still low, increased and is at the highest level in Florida that has been in years. It is now the economy which ranks highest among voters and on this issue, they give him very low marks and this stretches across Parties. Part of his low numbers for the economy is that until recently, the economy has not been the paramount issue that Iraq has been and the President has not been seen front and center on this issue.”

When Republicans were asked if they viewed President Bush as a conservative in the mode of Ronald Reagan, 6% said yes; 76% said no; and 18% were undecided.

“This question continues to be a problem for the President,” said Johnson. “Originally in 2000, he portrayed himself as a Reagan Republican and maintained strong support among base Republicans because of this. Today, he is no longer viewed that way. In order to really move his overall numbers, the President must reconnect with Republicans and convince them that he is a true Reagan conservative.”

When asked if voters approved or disapproved of the way Congress is handling its job, 16% approved; 76% disapproved; and 8% were undecided.

“For Democrats the good news should be that the President’s poll numbers continue to be low in pivotal battleground state such as Florida, particularly on the economy, so that it may affect Republican candidates such as Congressman Vern Buchanan. Yet the flip side is that voters don’t approve of the Democratic Congress, which could hurt incumbents like Tim Mahoney, who is one of the most endangered incumbents in the country,” said Johnson. “The current Congress continues to be the one of the most unpopular in recent memory with dissatisfaction widespread among all political persuasions.”

When asked if they favored an immediate withdrawal of United States military forces from Iraq within 6 months, 44% said yes; 43% said no; and 13% were undecided.

“The number favoring a swift withdrawal from Iraq decreased dramatically since December which is in line with what we are seeing in other states,” said Johnson. “This is the first time that those favoring and those disapproving have been basically tied since our 2006 polls. This would indicate that voters believe that the military surge is working.”

The poll showed 59% of respondents approving of Governor Charlie Crist’s job performance; 32% disapproving; and 9% undecided.

“While Governor Crist remains one of the most popular, some of the luster is beginning to wear off in his approval numbers and these are the lowest that we have recorded since he assumed office,” said Johnson. “Interestingly the largest group expressing disapproval at his job performance are social conservative Republicans. The Governor’s support is weakest in the I-4 corridor and North Florida.”

Senator Bill Nelson received a job approval of 53%; with 35% disapproving; and 12% undecided. Senator Mel Martinez received a job approval of 45%; with 39% disapproving; and 16% undecided.

“Senator Martinez has yet to make a strong impression on Florida voters and needs to create a stronger impression on voters prior to 2010,” said Johnson. “The positive for the Senator is that he still has time to do so. He polls his best in central Florida and his worse in North Florida.”

When asked if they favored adding a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages, 56% of respondents said yes; 33% said no; and 11% were undecided.

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