Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Bush Leads Lieberman in Florida Poll

From the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:

ORLANDO — President Bush, who won Florida by 537 votes in 2000 after a contentious recount, would carry the state by 20 percentage points if next year’s election were held today, a statewide poll says.

But there is also some bad news for the president — his job performance was rated favorably by 54 percent of respondents, down from 58 percent in July.

The poll of 625 registered Florida voters by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research for the Orlando Sentinel and WESH-TV also showed that 52 percent of respondents approved of Bush’s handling of the economy, and 54 percent give him favorable ratings for his handling of Iraq.

Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut parlayed name recognition from his 2000 vice-presidential campaign and frequent visits to South Florida into front-runner status among Florida Democrats polled.

The poll, released Monday, was conducted Nov. 17 to 21, after U.S. Sen. Bob Graham of Florida had ended his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. It has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

In a Bush-Lieberman contest, the president was favored by 56 percent of those polled compared to 36 percent for the Democrat. Bush pulled support from 59 percent of the voters in a matchup with former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who got 36 percent. Against Wesley Clark, the president got 56 percent of the vote to 33 percent for the retired general, who only entered the Democratic contest in September.

About 23 percent of Florida Democratic voters were undecided when it came to choosing their party’s presidential candidate, according to the poll.

Lieberman drew 21 percent — one of the few places in the nation he is leading. Dean, the current front-runner nationally, got 17 percent. Clark had 14 percent, U.S. Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri polled 11 percent and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts 6 percent.

The Democratic candidate could be all but formally chosen by the time Florida voters go to the primary polls March 9.

Florida has not been high on the campaign trail, except for President Bush, who stops by every so often to see how Fredo – oops, I mean Jeb – is handling his turf. So far the only active Democratic candidates to campaign in Florida are Lieberman and Clark. Dean is slated to appear in Miami on Saturday, December 13. So it’s not like anyone’s paying attention, what with the Marlins winning the World Series and the melodrama over the Dolphins’ quarterbacks.