FL-Sen: Improvement for Nelson

Public Policy Polling (PDF) (3/24-27, Florida voters, Dec. 2010 in parens):

Bill Nelson (D-inc): 50 (44)

Mike Haridopolos (R): 34 (32)

Undecided: 17 (24)

Bill Nelson (D-inc): 48 (46)

Adam Hasner (R): 32 (30)

Undecided: 20 (25)

Bill Nelson (D-inc): 48 (47)

George LeMieux (R): 33 (36)

Undecided: 19 (17)

Bill Nelson (D-inc): 47 (44)

Connie Mack IV (R): 34 (36)

Undecided: 18 (20)

Bill Nelson (D-inc): 45

Joe Scarborough (R): 32

Undecided: 22

Bill Nelson (D-inc): 47

Jimmy Wales (R): 28

Undecided: 25

(MoE: ±4.4%)

At least three names tested here are almost certainly out of consideration. Mack as you know said last week that he wouldn’t run. The NRSC dumped all over Scarborough a few weeks ago after he revealed they’d been recruiting him; the hostility level there soared to “Ernie” almost overnight. And Jimmy Wales is just some libertarian fantasy candidate – he’s the founder of Wikipedia and has plenty of baggage of his own. (Long before Wikipedia, he created the porny site Bomis, and in later years tried to whitewash references to it from his own Wikipedia profile!)

That leave the bumbling Haridopolos, the would-be teabagger fave Hasner, and the one-time Charlie Crist acolyte LeMieux. I’m not writing any of these guys off, but it’s not a terribly inspiring field (which explains why John Cornyn was chatting up Joe Scar). I wouldn’t be surprised at all if another big name got in, whether we’re talking some random rich dude ala Rick Scott, or Rep. Vern Buchanan (who is himself also a rich dude). Bill Nelson got absurdly lucky in 2006 when he faced Katherine Harris; he won’t be that fortunate again, but he may still benefit from a weakish field.

Anyhow, to the numbers. As Tom notes, Nelson’s scores with members of his own party are kinda low:

38% of voters approve of the job Nelson’s doing to 34% who disapprove. Those numbers sound uninspiring but the main reason for them is that only 55% of Democrats approve of the job he’s doing, where you’d usually expect someone to be in the 70-80% range within their own party. Nelson gets 74-80% of the Democratic vote against each of the Republicans we tested him against so this is a classic case where his base might not love him, but they’re still going to vote for him.

I agree – I think these folks will come home for Nelson, especially with Obama at the top of the ticket. Tom makes another good point:

Most of the time people focus on politicians’ approval number when analyzing their reelection chances and if you do that in Nelson’s case 38% doesn’t look so hot. I think it might be more instructive here though to look at Nelson’s disapproval number – is someone who only 34% of voters are unhappy with really going to get tossed out of office? Seems doubtful – certainly didn’t happen to any Senators or Governors last year.

Not loved, but not hated. That might just be good enough for 2012.

60 thoughts on “FL-Sen: Improvement for Nelson”

  1. Nelson has a couple of things going for him in 2012, he has appeal in the panhandle and all the extra turnout for the Presidential will give him even more footing. Plus, PPP also showed that Obama is leading all Republicans, even 3 point lead on Jeb Bush and that bodes well for chances of the state going blue again.

  2. Those numbers sound uninspiring but the main reason for them is that only 55% of Democrats approve of the job he’s doing, where you’d usually expect someone to be in the 70-80% range within their own party.

    Part of what makes things tough for Florida Democrats is that I’m pretty sure that no state whose median voter is as conservative as Florida’s has a median Democratic voter as liberal as Florida does.  

    But Democrats don’t have to love Nelson for him to win. They just need to respect him, to like him better than his Republican opponent, and to continue voting for him. (That’s not enough by itself, but Nelson should be fine as long as he can fight the GOP candidate to a draw or better with independents and unaligned voters.)

  3. Bill Nelson really is the best hope Dems have in FL in many ways.  I wonder how long he wants to be in the Senate.  

    Its crazy, but thinking out until 2018, would he run again?  Is there a charimanship he could be given to keep him happy?  It looks like Indian Affairs (Akaka), Energy (Bingaman), Budget (Conrad) and Homeland Security (Lieberman) will be open.

    One other note I never knew, when he was running in 2006 against Katherine Harris, when he knew he was going to win he transferred millions to other Dem candidates…holy crap.

  4. Unfortunately,after how 2010 turned out after looking great at the start of the cycle, I’m not going to get my hopes up quite so high. I think we can be optimistic though.

    On another note, does anyone think the convention could have an impact in this race? That is, if it doesn’t get moved as some Republicans are starting to suggest if Florida legislature doesn’t move back their primary.

  5. At least that’s what this Roll Call article says. Granted, if you look past the concern trolling and into the internals, you’ll see that Nelson is down 15 to 20 points amongst Democrats from where he will likely be on election day. Okay, so maybe he won’t hit 96 percent, but it won’t be as low as 77 percent. In other words, Democrats will come home on election day. That alone adds a few points to his totals, bringing him over this 50 percent mark that he has to be over before he can stop pissing himself./snark


  6. With Mack out of the running, I tend to think Hasner is the strongest GOP candidate of those currently showing interesting.  LeMieux is unoffensive, but also utterly without flash and I just can’t see him getting enough people excited about him to win.  I believe Haridopolos will be a weak candidate.  I’ve mixed feelings about Buchanan.  Part of me wants to see Jennifer Carrol run, but she’s made no moves and I’m not sure she’s really ready for it yet.

    I still maintain that Marco Rubio is going to be on the ticket and the GOP will win FL, but time will tell.  But at best, I think having Rubio on the ticket will only give a couple of points to a GOP senate candidate and that may not be enough to overcome Nelson.  Hasner is from the Gold Coast, but I’m not sure that he’ll be much stronger there than any other GOP candidate.  He’ll need to get good numbers in the I4 corridor.  

  7. Jimmy Wales is not the “founder” of Wikipedia.  Dr. Larry Sanger championed the idea of switching gears on a failing encyclopedia project to implement an “anyone can edit” wiki.  Sanger named it “Wikipedia”, and Sanger issued the first public call for participation.  Wales installed some freeware.  It took him about 30 minutes.  Sanger toiled for the next year shepherding the guidelines and policies that still act as the foundation for Wikipedia today.

    But, that’s not the worst baggage for Jimmy Wales.  His first wife has bad-mouthed him in W Magazine.  He had a sexual affair with a Canadian political pundit while still married to his second wife.  And while his divorce from her was still working its way through the Pinellas County court, he jumped on a plane to the UK and got yet another non-American woman pregnant.  According to The Guardian newspaper, she’s likely had their child now, but Wales is keeping that a big secret from the press.

    Could someone name for a me a staunch and influential Republican who would endorse such a guy for office?

  8. Roll Call is reporting that ex-Sen LeMieux is about to pull the trigger.

    Here’s a blurb from the St. Petersburg Times that says pretty much the same thing and isn’t behind a pay wall – http://www.tampabay.com/news/p

    Say what you want about Katherine Harris, but at least she had been elected statewide before her Nelson challenge. Hell, at least she had been elected to anything. LeMieux gets a lot of credit for being the wind behind Charlie Christ’s sails in his races for Gov but I have a hard time seeing him muster the necessary charisma to attract excitement.  

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