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McCollum's lead narrows, voters don't want his health care lawsuit

The race for governor has narrowed slightly with Republican State Attorney General Bill McCollum ahead of Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, the Democrat's nominee, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll.

   McCollum has been the frontrunner in the race to replace Gov. Charlie Crist since August but, according to the poll of likely voters April 8-13, he's not getting much traction among independents with his plan to sue the federal government over its health care reform.

   Voters say 54-40 percent that it's a "bad idea'' for McCollum to file a lawsuit challenging the plan, and 38-28 percent say it makes them less likely to support his bid for governor. Among independents, the historically crucial voting group in Florida, the idea is particularly unpopular: 41-27 percent oppose the lawsuit challenge.

   "Florida voters mostly disapprove of the health care plan 48 - 44 percent, but trying to stop it in court is not a political winner for McCollum, at least at this point," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

   McCollum easily disposes of a primary challenge by state Sen. Paula Dockery of Lakeland for the Republican nomination 56 -- 7 percent, according to the poll, with 34 percent undecided. Sink has no primary challenger.

    Most voters say they approve of the job McCollum is doing as attorney general, 51-25 percent, and give him a 38 -- 18 percent favorability rating. But 41 percent of those polled said they who don’t know enough about him to form an opinion.

    Sink is less well-known and less well-liked by those who know her. She gets a 39 -- 26 percent approval rating for her job as CFO and a 22 -- 15 percent favorability rating, with 61 percent who don’t know enough about her to form an opinion, according to the poll.

   While McCollum continues to hold the edge in the close race for governor, Brown warned: "November is a long way off."

   Meanwhile, President Barack Obama's approval rating has risen since January to 50-45 percent, compared to a 45 -- 49 percent negative four months ago, the survey found.

   The uptick in the president's numbers is largely due to his improved standing among independent voters, who give him a narrow 48 - 46 percent approval, Brown said.

   Florida voters approve of his call for more offshore oil drilling, with 66-27 percent in favor of it generally and 64 - 28 percent approve of it off Florida's coasts. Republicans in particular like the idea of drilling off Florida shores: 79 percent approve, while only 53 percent of Demcorats like the idea.