Politics

Poll: Webster Beats Down 'Angry' Grayson

Republican nears 50 percent mark in Central Florida's 8th Congressional District
By: Kenric Ward | Posted: October 26, 2010 4:05 AM
Dan Webster and Alan Grayson - Sunshine State News Poll

Dan Webster and Rep. Alan Grayson

Holding a steady 7-point lead over a controversial and increasingly malodorous incumbent, Republican Daniel Webster is poised to knock out U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, a new Sunshine State News Poll shows.

Webster, a former state senator, leads Grayson, D-Orlando, 48-41. Florida TEA Party candidate Peg Dunmire garnered 4 percent, No Party Affiliation candidate George Metcalfe got 1 percent, and 5 percent of respondents were undecided.

In a previous poll, conducted Sept. 25, Webster led Grayson 43-36, an identical 7-point margin.

"Webster has to be the favorite here. Grayson has failed to turn his negative image around, and is still viewed in a negative light by a 55-38 margin," said Jim Lee, president of Voter Survey Service, which conducted both polls. "This means Grayson has very little if any room to grow."

Daniel Webster and Alan Grayson -- Sunshine State News Poll Table
While Webster's negatives climbed 12 points since the earlier poll, undoubtedly spurred by Grayson's relentlessly negative advertising, the Republican maintains a relatively healthy favorable/unfavorable rating of 47/33.

Lee said nothing has changed the "fundamental equation for Grayson" in Central Florida's 8th Congressional District, where President Barack Obama gets a 52 percent job disapproval score (vs. 51 percent last month).

"Given that this district leans Democratic in raw registration numbers, Grayson's only hope is to turn out his base at a higher rate than the opponent's," Lee said.

But even then, Lee cautioned, the district still trends Republican in a nonpresidential year. 

"The key difference in the poll when compared to last time is that Webster is surging with independents, now leading them by a 48-33 margin over Grayson, which is a reversal from a 42-33 Grayson lead in the last poll (a net swing of 24 points)," Lee reported.

Kathy Mears, a spokeswoman for Webster, said, "Although we are being outspent and deluged with some of the most negative and dirtiest ads in the country, we do sense a great deal of support from voters in the district. We trust that our positive message will win the day in Central Florida."

Grayson campaign manager Susannah Randolph responded that the contest "is much closer than Daniel Webster and the Republicans would like to admit, being that they spent nearly $2 million in negative ads to defeat Congressman Grayson."

The Oct. 13 filings with the Federal Election Commission show Grayson has raised $5,120,846, with $814,741 cash on hand and $1,080,966 in debt. Webster reported raising $1,317,108, with $340,119 cash on hand and no debt.

Meanwhile, the impact of the two third-party candidates is negligible and diminishing.

Dunmire and Metcalfe each lost 2 percentage points since the Sept. 25 survey, and their unfavorable ratings climbed sharply.

"Possibly viewed as spoilers, they are unlikely to cost Webster the race," Lee observed.

Dunmire was not immediately available for comment, but TEA (Taxed Enough Already) Party consultant Doug Geutzloe declared, "The Dunmire campaign will peak on Election Day and not a day sooner."

Metcalfe did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Since the Sunshine State News Poll shows Webster’s margin widening to 11 points among voters who say they are most likely to cast ballots (51-40), Lee projected that the Republican could top 50 percent on election night.

Even though both Webster and Grayson have increased their support in their respective bases (Webster up 7 with Republicans, Grayson up 8), the swing of independents against Grayson could prove to be his undoing.

And the congressman's rising unfavorable rating -- now worse than Obama's -- appears to be downright lethal.

"Grayson’s favorable-unfavorable image is now a staggering negative ratio of 55-30, compared to a negative 47-36 ratio in September, so it’s apparent his TV campaign has completely backfired," Lee said.

The Democrat's bombastic, shoot-from-the-lip style caught the attention this week of conservative columnist George Will, who called Grayson "the worst politician in America."

Citing highly negative and inaccurate ads that alternately labeled Webster "Taliban Dan" and a "draft dodger," Will suggested that Grayson's "vulgarity" and non-stop anger have caught up with the freshman lawmaker.

Noting that Grayson has even mocked Webster's name as "18th century," Will aptly quoted Massachusetts Sen. Daniel Webster (1782-1852): “Anger is not an argument.”

The Sunshine State News Poll surveyed 801 likely voters Oct. 22-25 via an automated tracking survey. The margin of error is +/- 3.46 percent.

To view the crosstabs, click on the attachmentment below.
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Contact Kenric Ward at kward@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 801-5341.
Attachments: 

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