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Herald/Times poll: Nelson up 47-42 over Mack

Independent voters and party switchers are providing the edge for Democrat Bill Nelson as he maintains his lead over Republican challenger Connie Mack in the U.S. Senate race, according to a new Miami Herald/El Nuevo Herald/Tampa Bay Times poll.

Mack narrowed the margin to 47 to 42 percent, three points tighter than it was last month, but the Fort Myers congressman didn’t seem to benefit from the eight-point surge of support for Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney in Florida.

Nelson continues to lead among voters who are not affiliated with any party, getting 51 percent support among independent voters to Mack’s 37 percent.

The Orlando Democrat also enjoys some crossover appeal, with 6 percent of the voters surveyed voting for both Romney and Nelson.

“This isn’t a wave election so you may see some purposeful ticket-splitting because people are a little bit divided in their view over what the parties are offering,’’ said Mason-Dixon pollster Brad Coker.

The telephone survey of 800 registered Florida voters — all likely to vote in the November election — was conducted Oct. 8-10 for the Tampa Bay Times, Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald, Bay News 9 and Central Florida News 13. The poll, which included respondents using land-lines and cell phones, was conducted by Mason-Dixon, a nonpartisan, Jacksonville-based company. The margin of error is 3.5 percentage points. Story here.

The Mack campaign issued the following statement from campaign manager Jeff Cohen:

“Today’s Mason-Dixon poll validates what I have been saying for weeks – the race between Connie Mack and Bill Nelson is close and getting closer.

“Although this poll shows we are down by five points, there are several key takeaways that are critical to the analysis of this data:
“1) Connie is gaining ground among the voters. Nelson has been stuck in the mid to upper 40s in virtually every poll and is now slipping because his strategy of spending millions and millions of dollars in obnoxious personal smears and negativity has backfired and has resulted in growing voter disapproval of his liberal record.

“2) Given the proven nature of voter performance, it is reasonable to expect undecided voters will break against an incumbent at a ratio of at least 3:2. This poll has 7 percent undecided.
“3) The demographic sample of this poll (44D, 40R, 16I) still does not accurately reflect the likely makeup of the electorate ­ which we continue to project will be 40D, 40R, 20I.

“In short given the topline data in the match up between Connie Mack and Bill Nelson, coupled with the poll's demographic composition and expected voter behavior models, we are even more pleased with our standing in this race as we enter the last three weeks. We are extremely confident on November 6th Connie will be elected Florida's next United States Senator.”