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New poll: Voters want more Democrats in Legislature?

One fascinating surprise lurks in an otherwise predictable poll by Florida United Business this week: If state legislative races were held today, more people would vote for a Democrat than a Republican. The numbers: 38 percent of the 600 voters surveyed July 24 and 25 would pick a Democrat, compared to 30 percent who would support a Republican. Another 32 percent are undecided.

Unlike other recent polls, this one queried not just likely primary voters but the whole field -- including the growing numbers of independents who make up the crucial collection of new voters in Florida.

What's more, the poll shows that 65 percent of those surveyed believe the country is headed down the wrong track, while only 25 percent say it's going in the right direction. As for Florida, the split is even: 45 percent say the state is headed down the wrong track while 44 percent say it's steering straight.

Republicans have seen these numbers coming for some time, based on their own internal party polls. Incoming House Speaker Marco Rubio has warned his colleagues that unless his party becomes known as a party with new ideas and solutions, it's going to lose the dominance it has gained over the past decade. Thus his quest for "100 Innovative Ideas.''

Florida's legislative districts have been apportioned so carefully to benefit Republicans, there is no chance more Democrats will be elected this year to the state House and Senate than Republicans. But if these numbers are any proof, there's a clear sign that this year's general election fight will be over the minds and hearts of the independent voters.