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Times/Herald/Bay News 9 poll: Bill Nelson 45, Connie Mack 42

Sen. Bill Nelson faces a tough re-election campaign in a year when Florida voters are dissatisfied with the economy, Congress and President Barack Obama, according to a new Times/Herald/Bay News 9 poll.

The survey, released Friday, shows Nelson with a three-point lead over Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fort Myers, 45-42 percent. Mack is the leading contender in a five-man Republican primary field.

Thirteen percent were undecided.

"Nelson has a much tougher race than he's probably had in a long time," said Brad Coker of Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, a nonpartisan, Jacksonville-based company that conducted the poll for the media organizations.

But Coker also noted that the Florida U.S. Senate race is "still in its formative stages" and is overshadowed by the Republican presidential primary. That will change as the GOP presidential contest comes to an end in Florida next week and Republicans turn their attention to winning a majority in the U.S. Senate. The GOP Senate primary is Aug. 14. (story here)