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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Fla Insider Poll: Mitt Romney seen as strongest candidate to beat Barack Obama in Florida



Florida’s most experienced political professionals are closely divided on whether Rick Perry or Mitt Romney will win Florida’s Republican presidential primary, but overwhelmingly they see Romney as the stronger candidate to beat Barack Obama in Florida.
More than 100 of Florida’s sharpest political minds participated in the latest St. Petersburg Times Florida Insider Poll  - including campaign consultants, lobbyists, activists - and the results were striking: Two thirds of Democrats and two thirds of Republicans pegged Romney as the stronger general election candidate, though Republicans were considerably more confident than Democrats that Perry would win Florida’s crucial presidential primary early next year.
Half the Republicans predicted Romney would win the primary and 41 percent predicted Perry. Among Democrats, 56 percent expected Perry to win the primary and 37 percent said Romney.
"Lets face it, Rick Perry is comfort food! Like pot roast, mashed potatoes, and extra gravy it feels good going down, then comes indigestion in the morning. Mitt is more of a balanced diet, high on vegtables, low on sweets, a recipe that is likely to win the blue ribbon on election day," said one Republican.
"Gov. Perry has the charisma and the track record to run the table. Romney looks too much like a Washington Insider despite his protestations to the contrary. Newt is both qualified and very bright but has more baggage than a busload of Junior Leaguers a trip to NYC," countered another Republican.
From a Democrat: "As a Democrat,Huntsman clearly scares me more than Romney (who I chose), but he's got as much chance of the
nomination as Charlie Crist has being Republican of the Year. In the end, the GOP will get it right and pick Romney over
Perry, when they figure out that Perry is just too crazy for a general election. If they do nominate Perry, Obama will almost
certainly be reelected."
The survey included 54 Republicans, 43 Democrats and seven people not registered to either party. It was taken after last week’s debate in Tampa and just as the candidates are about to descend on Orlando this week for the state GOP’s Presidency 5 week: a Fox News debate, Conservative Political Action Committee conference, and straw poll mock election conducted by nearly 3,500 party activists registered as delegates.
"The story after the straw poll will be that Romney did surprisingly well and Paul did poorly. I do think PV is more likely to pick losers than winners. If Paul, Santorum, Cain, and Newt, don't make any noise, they are out. Bachman could be added to this group if she finishes fourth or below," a Republican suggested.
Is that mock election a credible indicator of a candidate’s strength with Florida Republicans? Fifty six percent of our Republican insiders said it was and 43 percent said no.
"While I indicated that P5 is a credible indicator of strenght in FL, it is a snapshot of strenght at that particular moment factors will create significant change between then and the FL Primary. In 1995, Phil Graham finished a strong 2nd place at P3, but dropped out of the race before even getting to NH." noted a Republican.
More than 80 percent of our insiders, Republicans and Democrats alike, predicted Perry will win that straw poll on Saturday.
"I expect Rick Perry to win the P5 straw poll," a Republican said, "only if he at least meets expectations at the debate two days earlier. He sure looked like last week's news at the CNN debate."
Trying to downplay it’s significance, Romney and Michele Bachmann are not planning to address the delegates on the day they vote More than 70 percent of the poll respondents said that was an unwise decision.
"Understanding Bachman and Romney are concerned about the fallout of a loss at the straw poll, I still believe they are unwisely giving up a great opportunity to fire up the base and personally touch the most active grassroots supporters in the state,'' said a Republican. "In addition, the Presidency conventions provide the campaigns an opportunity to organize and mobilize their volunteers and crank up their machinery."  


This month's Fla Insiders were:  

Michael Albetta, Peter Schorsch, Meredith O'Rourke, Tyler Hudson, Ron Sachs, John French, Alberto Martinez, Joe Garcia, Derek  Newton, Gus Corbella, Dave Aronberg, Frank Tsamatoules, Marian Johnson, Rick Wilson, Screven Watson, Jeff Garcia, Erin VanSickle, Adam Goodman, Monica Russo, Scott Arceneaux, Susie Wiles, Dan Gelber, Robin Rorapaugh, Bud Shorstein, Scott Peelen, Mitchell Berger, Greg Turbeville, Lucy Morgan, Cindy Graves, Carlos Curbelo, Alex Sink, Robert Coker, Andy Ford, Arlene DiBenigno, Steven Schale, Kirk Fordham, Alex Burgos, Jamie Miller, Cory Tilley, Ellen Freidin, Slater Bayliss, Nancy Watkins, Nancy McGowan, Marion Hammer, Henry Kelley, Eric Johnson, David Rancourt, Dylan Sumner, Chris Ingram, Alex Hackler, Bill McBride, Jamie Wilson, Bernie Campbell, Marc Reichelderfer, Sally Bradshaw, Rich Heffley, Towson Fraser, Allan Bense, Karen Unger, Darryl Paulson, Jim Rimes, Richard Swann, Al Cardenas, Todd Wilder, Don Hinkle, Brian Crowley, David Custin, Andrew Weinstein, Daniel Smith, Trey McCarley, Kirk Wager, Mac Stipanovich, Joe Perry, Tom Eldon, Greg Truax, Betty Castor, Christina Johnson, James Harris, Christian Ulvert, David Johnson, Paul Bradshaw, Brian Ballard, Tom Lee, Dan McLaughlin, Steve Uhlfelder, Kathleen Shanahan, Kristy Campbell, Kathy Mears, Brett Doster, Mark Ferrulo, William Helmich, Jill Chamberlin, Hayden Dempsey, Ana Cruz, John Rood, Karl Koch, Stephen Shiver, Ryan Tyson, Husein Cumber, Kevin Cate, Amber Stoner, Shannon Gravitte, Stephanie Kunkel.


[Last modified: Friday, September 16, 2011 11:00am]


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