Politics

Democratic Poll Boosts Republican Election Hopes

Florida survey shows conservatives rising, and liberals on the sidelines
By: Kenric Ward | Posted: August 14, 2010 4:05 AM

Bad news may be coming for Democrats in the November elections -- and that dismal prediction comes from a Democratic pollster.

Hamilton Campaigns, a Jacksonville- and Washington-based Democratic consulting firm, reports that Democrats are ambivalent about the fall election as President Barack Obama's popularity flags.

A memo obtained by Sunshine State News shows the results of a private poll, which surveyed 1,000 Florida voters who say they are likely to cast ballots in the Nov. 2 election.

Among the findings:

* The electorate in Florida identifies as moderate to conservative -- 24 percent liberal; 29 percent moderate; and 47 percent conservative. Even among Democrats, fewer than half (43 percent) call themselves liberal.

* There is a significant gap in the level of interest in the upcoming election held by Democrats vs. Republicans. Almost two-thirds of the electorate say they are very interested in the election (64 percent very interested; 26 percent somewhat interested; 10 percent not interested). 

Only 58 percent of Democrats say they are very interested in this election, compared to 76 percent of Republicans.

Republicans who identify as very conservative are the most interested at 87 percent.

* President Obama’s personal favorability rating is split (51 percent favorable; 49 percent unfavorable; 32 percent very favorable, 35 percent very unfavorable).

African-American and Hispanic voters rate Obama favorably. White men of all age groups rate the president unfavorably. White women are split in their opinions toward Obama (48 percent favorable; 51 percent unfavorable).

Though Florida's latest party registration figures give Democrats a 600,000-vote advantage in the state, party members' general lack of enthusiasm is likely to depress turnout and make it tougher for Democrats to win in this off-year election.

Dismal poll numbers for Democratic senatorial hopefuls Kendrick Meek and Jeff Greene -- who lag far behind independent Charlie Crist and Republican Marco Rubio -- illustrate the apathy and disengagement of Democratic voters, experts say.

Experts say that even seemingly good news comes with a dark lining for Democrats.

In Colorado this week, Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet fended off a primary challenge. Some pundits scored that as a victory for Obama, who marshalled White House and Democratic National Committee resources to aid Bennet.

But despite the presidential push, the Democratic turnout was lackluster. More than 407,000 Coloradans voted in the GOP Senate primary compared with fewer than 339,000 casting ballots in the Democratic contest. The state's voter registration is split roughly 50-50.

Florida, which, irrespective of party registration, trends more conservative in the Hamilton poll, could be a much steeper climb for Democrats this fall.

In most elections -- John McCain's dreary 2008 presidential campaign excepted -- Republicans trump Democrats in turnout. In this election, the numbers and momentum appear to be going more decidedly in the GOP's direction.

As for suggestions that tea party rabble-rousers will splinter and squander the Republican advantage, Weekly Standard senior writer Stephen Hayes responds, "What nonsense!

"I think there is little question that the tea parties -- and the enthusiasm and energy they bring -- will contribute to major Republican gains in November," the conservative columnist said in a recent speech.

The latest findings from the liberal-leaning Hamilton Campaigns appear to affirm that prediction.

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Contact Kenric Ward at kward@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 801-5341.

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