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McCollum touts his polls, but his party's numbers are slipping

This week offered good news and bad for the Florida Republican Party. First the good news: The Bill McCollum gubernatorial campaign offered up internal polling that Democratic Alex Sink so far is showing more hype than momentum: McCollum not only leads Sink among likely Florida voters 41 percent to 33 percent, but voters said the had a more favorable opinion of McCollum (41 percent) than Sink (23 percent) and approved of his job performance (52 percent) as attorney general more than Sink as chief financial officer (38 percent).

It's wise to be skeptical of internal polls released by campaigns, but McCollum's pollster, John McLaughlin, is a respected veteran of Florida politics, and his numbers are similar to other recent public polls. He noted that even among the mere 25 percent of voters who knew enough about both candidates form an opinion of them, McCollum led Sink 46 percent to 41 percent.

"People had said, 'Well, she's not as well known, when she gets well known she will beat Bill.' Not with her current image. Bill is better known, better liked, and when they know both equally, Bill still has a decisive lead on her," McLaughlin told the Buzz.

GOP losing ground

Now the bad for Florida Republicans. In the increasingly diverse, melting pot that makes up the Florida electorate, Republicans continue losing ground among nonwhite voters in Florida. Of the voter registrations since November's election, Democrats had a three-to-one advantage with Hispanic voters and 25-to-one among African-Americans. Overall, nearly 40 percent of registrations since October were Democrats and 26 percent Republicans.

Republicans are touting an aggressive statewide voter registration and minority outreach push. But it looks likely they'll be fielding an all-white-male field at the top of the ticket while Democrats have a woman for governor and African-American for the Senate.

Nurse making nice

Karl Nurse used to be a frequent critic of St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker — until Nurse was appointed to the City Council. What's changed? "It looked better on the inside," Nurse said of Baker's administration in a Political Connections interview airing today on Bay News 9 at 11 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Adam Smith can be reached at asmith@sptimes.com. Political junkies can follow Smith on Twitter. Just look up adamsmithtimes.

Winner of the week

Jack Latvala. About 250 people showed up for Republican state Senate candidate Jack Latvala's campaign kickoff fundraiser at Ruth Eckerd Hall Wednesday night — a who's who of Tampa Bay politics that included a few Democrats such as state Rep. Janet Long, former legislative candidate Carl Zimmerman, and former state Sen. Ron Silver of North Miami. Latvala, who served previously in the Senate, is starting mighty strong in campaign for the Pinellas-Hillsborough seat now held by Democrat Charlie Justice, while not a single Democrat or Republican has emerged to challenge him.

Loser of the week

Tom Pelham. While local governments and environmental groups roundly trashed a controversial growth management bill, Florida's Department of Community Affairs Secretary stayed largely mum, giving the governor cover to sign SB 360 last week. Job security is a powerful motivator, but Pelham's legacy may be presiding over what critics claim is the biggest rollback in growth management in two decades.

McCollum touts his polls, but his party's numbers are slipping 06/06/09 [Last modified: Saturday, June 6, 2009 6:46pm]
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