American Future Fund, a conservative group, has released a poll showing Republican Gov. Rick Scott with not just a lead over Democrat Charlie Crist, but a relatively substantial one: 4 percentage points.
With the margin of error, however, one could call Scott's 42-38 percent lead a tie as well.
Just as Republicans do when their guy is losing, Democrats are sure to doubt this poll's validity. It's an outlier, for now. And McLaughlin & Associates have what are generally known as "tight screens" for their likely voter polls, which could make this one inherently more-conservative leaning.
That's because a likely voter in a Florida mid-term tends to be more conservative than one in a presidential race. And that's why there are no Democrats elected statewide who hold a position in the state Capitol.
And that's why it's not a bad idea to guess that the race between Scott and Crist will be close. It might be already. Not only have more-conservative-leaning polls shown a tighter race as of late, but Scott is on pace to burn about $8.5 million in just over two months on TV alone.
Money like that has to have an effect. Because it always has.
The McLaughlin poll is composed of 37% Democrats, 40% Republicans, 23% Other/independent voters. Other polls showing Crist up had more Democrats and independents. (2006 turnout was R=43% D=42%, OTH=15.3%; 2010 turnout was R=44%, D=40%, OTH=16.0% -- but note, there are wonky debates over self-ID and registered voter polls that might not make the polling and turnout percentages listed here as completely analogous).
The last Quinnipiac poll late last month had Crist up by 10 points (background here), other polls showed smaller Crist leads generally. When the polls were "unskewed," however, the race became pretty tight (background here).
Here's the press release