New Poll Shows McCollum Closing Gap with Scott in GOP Race for Governor

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Meek and Greene tight in Democratic race for U.S. Senate

Results set stage for crucial debates in Orlando

Poll Attached

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Less than three weeks before Florida’s August 24 Primary Election, a new poll indicates the crucial GOP race for Florida Governor may be tightening between Attorney General Bill McCollum and businessman Rick Scott.

The new Mason-Dixon poll commissioned by Leadership Florida and the Florida Press Association – the organizing partners of the statewide debate project Decision 2010: Before You Vote  – shows Scott leading McCollum 37 percent to 31 percent, with 29 percent still undecided. That result is closer than other polls have indicated in recent weeks, and the issue of immigration may be playing a factor.

“Hispanic Republicans favor McCollum over Scott by a 3-1 margin, which now is keeping McCollum in the race,” said Brad Coker, managing director of Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, which conducted the poll. “Perhaps Hispanic Republicans have been put off by Scott’s use of immigration as a wedge issue in the primary, while McCollum has communicated a position quite similar to that of Marco Rubio, which gives him some cover among Florida’s Cuban Republican community.”

In the Democratic race for U.S. Senate, the poll also shows U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek with a slight lead over real estate tycoon Jeff Greene, with Meek at 33 percent and Greene at 29 percent – just within the poll’s four-point margin of error.

In the Democratic primary race for Florida Attorney General, state Sen. Dan Gelber is edging Sen. Dave Aronberg by 23 percent to 21 percent.

In the Republican primary for Attorney General, prosecutor Pam Bondi narrowly leads Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp and former legislator Holly Benson by 17 percent to 16 percent and 13 percent, respectively.

The poll of 625 likely Democratic primary voters and 625 likely Republican primary voters was conducted from August 2 to August 4. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Decision 2010: Before You Vote, a project created by Leadership Florida in partnership with the Florida Press Association, will produce candidate debates featuring the Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate on Tuesday, August 10, to be produced at WKMG-TV, Ch. 6, the CBS affiliate in Orlando.  Both Greene and Meek have confirmed their participation.

“This year’s debates will provide Florida voters with an opportunity to learn more about these candidates and the issues in this critical race,” said Wendy Abberger, president of Leadership Florida. “Millions of Floridians will tune in to these lively, spirited and substantive debates, and the candidates who have chosen to participate in them will enjoy a unique opportunity to present themselves and their ideas to an engaged statewide audience.”

Decision 2010: Before You Vote will also produce a forum with Bill McCollum on Wednesday, August 11. The partnership had hoped to produce a full candidate debate in the Republican race for Florida Governor, but Rick Scott declined to accept the invitation to debate McCollum in a statewide television broadcast.

The statewide sponsoring entities for the debate series include the Florida Association of Insurance Agents, AARP, the Florida League of Mayors, and the Claude Pepper Foundation and Center. Together, these organizations represent tens of millions of Floridians, thousands of Florida businesses and institutions vital to the life of our state.

The August 10 debate in the Democratic race for U.S. Senate will air over a statewide broadcasting network that includes WPLG-TV Ch. 10 (ABC) in Miami, WKMG-TV Ch. 6 (CBS) in Orlando, WJXT-TV Ch. 4 in Jacksonville, WPTV Ch. 5 (NBC) in West Palm Beach, WFTS-TV Ch. 28 (ABC) in Tampa, WCTV-TV Ch. 6 (CBS) in Tallahassee, WCJB-TV Ch. 20 (ABC) in Gainesville, WWSB-TV Ch. 7 (ABC) in Sarasota, WEAR-TV Ch. 3 (ABC) in Pensacola, WJHG-TV Ch. 7 (NBC) in Panama City, and WINK-TV (CBS) in Ft. Myers.

Debates among the General Election candidates for U.S. Senate and Governor will be hosted by Nova Southeastern University in Broward County on October 19 and October 20, respectively.  Both debates will be broadcast live and statewide on the above listed commercial stations, with production by WPLG-TV/Channel 10 in South Florida.

On October 5, General Election candidates in each of the Cabinet races – Attorney General, Chief Financial Officer, and Commissioner of Agriculture – will face off at the University of Florida, hosted by the Graham Center for Public Service.  Those debates will be videotaped for later statewide distribution and broadcast, prior to the November 2 election.

“The Decision 2010: Before You Vote debate series is a valuable opportunity for citizens to learn more about candidates seeking state office. The FPA and Leadership Florida expect that qualified candidates will participate in these important forums,” said Dean Ridings, president and CEO of the Florida Press Association.

Leadership Florida has developed a reputation for 25 years as a builder of a stronger, diverse statewide sense of community. A respected non-partisan convener, Leadership Florida has taken the lead in training and developing leaders with a statewide, rather than parochial, view of our state’s needs.

The Florida Press Association is a nonprofit corporation designed to protect the freedoms and advance the professional standards of the press in Florida, with a membership that includes most of Florida’s daily and weekly newspapers.

Decision 2010 poll 8-5-10

Contact: Wendy Abberger, Tel. 850.591.2129
Dean Ridings, Tel. 850.212.8895


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