Battlin’ Dems Make Headway in FL?

    Once again, voters turn traditional wisdom on its head.  The whole campaign storyline of recent weeks revolves around Democrats’ fears that the prolonged Obama-Clinton dust-up will cost them in November, and Republicans’ joy at John McCain’s opportunity to stay above the fray and re-introduce himself to voters.

    Obama’s ex-minister, Clinton’s Bosnia airstrip mis-remembrance– surely endless coverage of these Democratic campaign troubles would turn off crucial independents and alienate Dems from one another.

   Well, not in Florida, if the latest Quinnipiac Poll is to be believed.  1,411 voters, +/- 2.6% margin for error, questioning done April 23-29, as that supposedly-divisive Pennsylvania primary played out.

   The new poll shows Hillary Clinton in front of John McCain, 49-41%.  A month ago, she led in that same poll in Florida by just 2%, a statistical tie. 

   And Barack Obama is now in a statistical tie with McCain in FL (McC-44%, O 43%), after trailing by 9-points in Quinnipiac’s April survey.

   As you’ll see in the following results and analysis by Quinnipiac’s Peter Brown– Floridians actually like McCain better on a number of fronts…

Florida voters give Clinton a 49 – 40 percent favorability rating, with 47 – 36 percent for Obama and 51 – 32 percent for McCain.

            The economy is the most important issue in their vote, 50 percent of Florida voters say, with 22 percent who list the war in Iraq and 10 percent who list health care.   If Clinton is elected, 44 percent say the economy will get better.  If Obama is elected, 38 percent say the economy will get better.   Only 24 percent say the economy will improve under McCain.

The most important quality they want in a candidate is strong leadership, 29 percent of voters say, while 27 percent want someone trustworthy and 23 percent want someone competent.

McCain is a strong leader, voters say 73 – 20 percent, compared to 69 – 27 percent for Clinton and 58 – 30 percent for Obama.   McCain also leads on the trustworthy measure 68 – 22 percent, with 58 – 28 percent saying Obama is trustworthy, and Clinton split at 46 – 46 percent. 

A total of 43 percent of Florida voters say a candidate’s age is “very important” or “somewhat important.”

            “In Florida, with its large number of senior citizens, age is an issue.  That could hurt Sen. McCain.  These same voters are less concerned with gender or race, which would impact Sen. Clinton or Sen. Obama.  But it may well be that people are more reluctant to concede they’re making decisions based on a candidate’s race or sex,” said Brown.

   So the oldest state in the union is worried that John McCain’s too old to be President?  Irony doesn’t begin to describe that result. 

   John McCain can’t change his age, and– having just seen him at his Miami stop last Monday– I can testify he’s showing his years.  What he must focus on changing is Floridians’ perceptions he offers only warmed-over Bush prescriptions for the economy… like continuing tax cuts for those earning $250k and up, tax cuts he used to oppose. 



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