Congressional District 22 -- rock-ribbed conservative Adam Hasner vs. outspoken liberal Lois Frankel -- has something many districts do not: more than a quarter of its voters are up for grabs. They don't belong to any party.
Yet, a Sunshine State News Poll of 750 likely voters in the district shows that only 6 percent of the undecideds remain that way.
Conducted by Voter Survey Service (VSS) of Harrisburg, Pa. on Oct. 14-16, the poll puts Republican Hasner and Democrat Frankel dead even at 47 percent.
"I'm not surprised," said Brad Herold, campaign manager for Adam Hasner. "We expected this to be a close race."
Hasner, 42, is attempting to win as a Republican in a congressional district with an impressive Democratic advantage.
Jim Lee, president of VSS, observed this: "I think the cross-tabs show that the CD 22 race will come down to whether Hasner can get the election to hinge on the economy, which the poll shows is his real strength.
"Or, conversely, to what extent Frankel can successfully convince voters that electing her will help safeguard entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security, which the poll shows is her biggest strength," Lee said.
Frankel, 64, is clearly using the Medicare issue to win validation against Hasner in TV ads, accusing him of wanting to turn the program into a "voucher." The Sunshine Poll seems to validate that Frankel is the more trustworthy among voters on this issue.
Both candidates, in a national spotlight for the virility of their campaigns, remain well-financed and able to get their messages out. A month ago each of them had $3 million to spend.
One important piece of the cross-tab seems to be Hasner's slightly stronger support among independents. He is winning them at a 50-43 clip, even though the presidential race independents are leaning toward President Obama 52-46.
So, independents seem to be voting more for Obama but splitting their ticket to vote for Hasner and a GOP Congress.
Asks Lee, "Could this mean they want a GOP Congress to be a check and balance on four more years of an Obama second term? I don't want to overstate this though, since the difference in support among independents is still small when comparing both races, but it struck me as worth mentioning."
Worth mentioning, too, is that the race in Palm Beach County is only a 4-point lead for Frankel in spite of the fact that this is her "home" county -- she is the former mayor of West Palm Beach. Hasner leads by 4 points in Broward. All in all, neither has established a commanding lead in either county.
"We're just going to keep running as hard as we can until the end," Hasner Campaign Manager Herold said. "We run like we're behind no matter what."
He added, "I like to see what the polls say, but they aren't what drives our campaign. We believe Adam has the best message -- jobs, getting our fiscal house in order and getting this economy moving again."
Hasner has said throughout the race that in spite of his solid tea party credentials he appeals to moderates because he listens, he reaches across the aisle and he has the voting record in the Florida Legislature to prove it.
Neither Frankel nor her campaign manager returned Sunshine State News' phone calls.
"One last observation," says Lee. "Sixty-three percent of the remaining undecided voters are female, which could benefit Frankel who leads among all females 51-42; Hasner leads among males by a near 52-44 margin."
See the cross-tabs and methodology for this poll in the attachments below.
The margin of error for a sample size of 750 interviews is +/- 3.57 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.
Reach Nancy Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (850) 727-0859.