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Odd FL poll by SurveyUSA: Obama 48%-Romney 43%. But Mack 48%-Nelson 43%. Huh?

Survey USA has one of the most eyebrow-raising of polls out that shows President Obama beating Mitt Romney 48-43%, but the numbers flip when it comes to the Florida Senate race where the Republican edges the Democrat by almost the same amount. Republican Rep. Connie Mack pulls in 48% and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson gets 42% of the vote.

Says SurveyUSA in its write-up headline: In Florida, Rising Barack Obama Tide Does Not Float Democrat Bill Nelson's Boat.

What makes the results stand out so much is that they're counterintuitive. Sure, the leads of Obama and Mack are within the poll's 3.9% error margin. But in almost every presidential-race year where there's a Senate candidate, the fates of the Republican candidate is tethered to the GOP candidate and the fate of the Democrats are similarly tied.

Mack believes this as well.

"Look, if Mitt Romney wins, we win. If I win, he wins,'' Mack said last week in Tampa. "We're going to be tied in this election, just like Obama and Nelson are tied."

Says SurveyUSA:

Hispanics, who vote for Democrat Obama by 10 points today, vote for Republican Mack by 12 points, a 22-point difference. Independents, who vote for Democrat Obama by 11 points, vote for Republican Mack by 4 points, a 15-point difference. Middle-income voters, who vote for Democrat Obama by 11 points, vote for Republican Mack by 2 points, a 13-point difference. 9% of Obama voters cross-over and vote Republican in the U.S. Senate contest. These factors combine to tip the balance to Mack.

A Miami Herald-Tampa Bay Times poll last week showed Nelson slightly ahead overall (47-42), winning among independents (50-39) but trailing Mack among Hispanics by a single point. Assuming the Senate race numbers from SurveyUSA aren't some odd outlier, Mack's position could be the result of the estimated ongoing $14 million negative ad blitz against Nelson from outside groups, Mack's good name-ID and/or solid support from Miami-Dade's Cuban community, which loved his dad, former Sen. Connie Mack III. Mack also panned the Arizona-immigration law (unpopular among Hispanic voters), which he likened to a Nazi plan. Polling Hispanics in Florida is difficult. In South Florida, they're largely Cuban and overwhelmingly Republican. In Central Florida, they're largely Puerto Rican and overwhelmingly Democrat.

SurveyUSA, which used Interactive Voice Recording survey technology (aka "robo-poll") to survey 647 likely voters. "Respondents unreachable on a home telephone (25% of likely voters) were shown a questionnaire on their smartphone or other electronic device," it said. It does appear to overstate GOP performance by a few points, though. Forty percent of the respondents are Republicans and 39 percent Democrats. Democrats, who hold a 4-point registration lead over Republicans in Florida, will probably outperform the GOP by anywhere from 1-3 points on Election Day. But, obviously, we'll see.

Taken at face value, the GOP-leaning poll is excellent news for Obama and good news for Mack. Talk about strange Election-Day bedfellows.


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Steven Schaffer

What are you going to do to swing it towards Bill Nelson, Marc? Better write another negative article on Connie Mack soon!


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