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When different polls tell contradictory stories

We heard from plenty of Democrats on Saturday displeased about our Tampa Bay Times/Bay News 9/Miami Herald poll showing Mitt Romney leading Barack Obama by 6 points in Florida, 51 percent to 45 percent.

Well, here's a poll they will prefer: An NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll also conducted Tuesday through Thursday found Obama up in Florida by 2 points, 49 percent to 47 percent.

"President Obama is getting good reviews for his handling of Hurricane Sandy," says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. "But, Obama is under 50 percent, and the big question is whether or not Romney can attract the remaining undecided voters to tip the scales."

The contrasting results are a reminder that polling is as much art as science and results can vary depending on the samples of voters surveyed. The average of recent Florida polls compiled by RealClearPolitics shows Romney leading Florida by 1.4 percentage points.

A six-point lead is a virtual landslide in Florida, and neither presidential campaign is acting like the state is anything but a toss-up. Paul Ryan campaigned in Panama City on Saturday, Obama today campaigns in Broward County, and Romney and Michelle Obama are set to campaign in the Orlando area Monday.

Meanwhile, the Obama campaign told POLITICO that it placed its final TV advertising, "the overwhelming focus of which was to double down on Florida and Virginia. The Romney campaign has tried to claim for weeks that they'd be victorious in those states, but from everything we're seeing in the numbers and on the ground, we believe that they'll end up in the president's column on Tuesday night."

Tampa Bay and the West Palm Beach TV markets saw the biggest increase in Obama advertising.

Early voting success

"Early voting is the greatest change that has happened to our elections," says former Hillsborough County Elections Supervisor Pam Iorio.

It may not increase overall voter participation, but she said it ensures more people can vote — especially hourly workers and people without transportation who often have to miss voting election day if something comes up, say a broken car or a sick kid.

What's more, the Democratic former Tampa mayor notes early voting is "a fantastic way to make sure that any problem that comes to light can be fixed." Like, say, a confusing ballot design that might prompt people to vote more than once or for the wrong person.

"Had we had early voting in 2000, Al Gore would have been president,'' said Iorio, who is no rabid partisan.

She made another provocative point: Contrary to popular belief that Florida is the ultimate purple, swing state, she argues that in fact, its electorate leans Democratic. When African-Americans and Hispanic voters turn out in big numbers, Democrats tend to win Florida, she said.

"Take the last four presidential elections — Democrats won three of them,'' said Iorio, counting 2000 as a Democratic win because voter-error caused so many spoiled ballots. "The only time it went for the Republicans was Bush-Kerry, when (John) Kerry could not muster minority enthusiasm."

Greer family anger

The dishwasher is broken, the sink is leaking and Lisa Greer, wife of former Florida GOP Chairman Jim Greer, says she is about ready to spill the beans on people who could have helped them.

In a Facebook posting last week, Mrs. Greer described the family's "Difficult situation,'' saying they cannot afford repairs.

"To all of you who want to destroy Jim, is it worth it to you to hurt my children and I,'' she wrote. "I wish that all of you will someday know the stress and pain and worry that you have brought on my family. Lawyers keep asking me to not speak out until the time is right, not to name names, but I can't wait much longer to tell the secrets of those who could help us, but don't.''

Greer is awaiting trial in February on charges of fraud and money laundering in connection with the alleged theft of about $200,000 from party coffers. He contends the party owes him money as part of a 2010 severance agreement.

Mrs. Greer says she is now washing dishes in a bathtub and wishes those who owe them money would pay up.

"I am ashamed that I once thought of so many of you as friends, that I believed in you as the Christians and public servants you claimed to be,'' she added.

Election analysis

Check out Political Connections today on Bay News 9, where we talk to former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer and political analysts Ana Cruz and Chris Ingram about the election. It airs at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Seeking tweets

From now until election night (and potentially beyond), we're compiling a Storify of tweets, pictures and links related to the race. If you'd like to be part of the coverage, just add #tampabay times to your tweet or Instagram and we'll watch for it. You can also follow along election night on our Twitter account, @Politics TBTimes.

Lucy Morgan contributed to this week's Buzz. Adam C. Smith can be reached at asmith@tampabay.com.

Winner of the week

Bill Clinton. The Big Dog's hour-long rally speech in St. Petersburg on Friday — proving yet again he can sell Barack Obama's record better than Obama -— reminds us that nobody emerges from this election cycle looking better than Clinton.

Loser of the week

Democratic legislative candidates. The state's Democratic campaigns have been so overwhelmingly outspent by Republicans that significant gains seem unlikely. We can't help suspect that the GOP plan to oust three Florida Supreme Court justices was actually a head fake to ensure trial lawyers spend millions defending the justices instead of helping elect Democratic legislators.

When different polls tell contradictory stories 11/03/12 [Last modified: Saturday, November 3, 2012 7:32pm]
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