From the Miami Herald:
Dean, Clark Catch Lieberman in Florida
Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut was the vice presidential nominee in 2000 credited with exciting Florida Democrats and almost winning the White House for Al Gore, but a new poll Thursday shows he can no longer look to the state as a second home base in his own quest for the White House.
Lieberman, who appeared to be the heir apparent to Florida Democratic support when Sen. Bob Graham remained in the race, is now tied with former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark in the state.
The results also show that Dean and Clark, despite limited Florida exposure, are beginning to build public identities in the nation’s most populous swing state, where the 2000 election was decided by just 537 votes.
Six months ago, Dean was at 1 percent among Florida Democrats. Now he leads, with 16 percent, compared to 15 for Clark and Lieberman, with a margin of error of plus or minus 5.3 percentage points.
Of the nine Democratic hopefuls, Dean and Clark come closest to President Bush in a general election matchup in Florida, each coming within 8 points, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 points. Lieberman would lose by 11.
And then there’s this:
Iraq erodes Bush favor in Florida
In a state that could tip the balance in next year’s election, President Bush has lost support. No challenger is more popular than he is, though.
Florida put President Bush in the White House in 2000, but one year before he faces reelection, voters in the nation’s most populous swing state are increasingly concerned about his leadership on Iraq, according to a new poll.
The survey shows that a slight majority of the state’s registered voters still approve of the president’s job performance — but his overall approval rating has dropped since the days immediately after he declared the end to ”major combat.” And voters are troubled by the mounting deaths in Iraq, according to the poll conducted for The Herald and The St. Petersburg Times.
The result is likely to be troubling for White House strategists as they lay plans for another fierce campaign. Just more than four in 10 respondents said they would vote for Bush if the election were held now, while they were evenly divided on whether the country was headed in the right direction.
Seven in 10 Florida voters feel Bush has not clearly explained when the troops will come home, and voters are evenly split on Bush’s overall approach to the war.
What’s more, despite the fact that Bush is generally well-liked by the public, half of those surveyed said Bush did not understand the problems of people like them. And, despite Bush’s 2000 promise to change the tone of national politics, a plurality said he has not succeeded in restoring ”honesty and integrity” in Washington.
”The president’s popularity is tenuous, even vulnerable, and it will take another year to sort out whether he can carry the state again,” said Democratic pollster Rob Schroth, who conducted the survey for the newspapers with Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway.
The poll, conducted Dec. 1-3, surveyed 800 registered voters across the state.
Not all of the news is bad for the president.
Overall, while voters in both parties appear antsy about the fate of U.S. troops in Iraq, more continue to support the war in general than oppose it, though by a narrow margin.
Half said the war was ”worth fighting” given the costs to the United States, compared to 43 percent who said it was not. And nearly two-thirds said parallels to Vietnam were ”unfair.” Support for the war in general is largely divided along partisan lines.
The poll showed potential trouble for Bush on the economy.
Democrats have been hammering the president on a ”jobless recovery,” citing the millions of lost jobs since Bush took office. While Bush has argued that his trillions in tax cuts have stimulated growth, Florida voters appear skeptical — split 47-47 over the president’s job performance on the economy.
The poll was conducted amid a wave of publicity about the Bush-backed bill creating a prescription drug benefit in Medicare — designed in part to boost the president’s standing among seniors.
But, at least in Florida, the survey suggests the president has some ways to go. While half of respondents 65 and older approve of the president’s job performance, 46 percent disapprove — the highest disapproval rating across all age groups.
Considering the facts that northern Florida – from Orlando north – is considered to be part of the South (i.e. Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, etc.) and that Bush has a 2-to-1 advantage among Hispanic voters, these poll results should give Karl Rove something to worry about. Maybe he ought to talk to Rush about some of those pain-killers.