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Floridians Give Obama and Bill Nelson Mixed Marks in New Poll

February 2, 2011 - 6:00pm

A poll released by Quinnipiac University Thursday showed that Florida will be in the front lines in the 2012 political wars when both President Barak Obama and Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson face challenges for re-election.

Obama won the approval of 47 percent of those surveyed, but 49 percent of Floridians disapproved of his performance. He could face serious challenges in carrying Florida come 2012, because the poll found only 45 percent want to see a second Obama term while 48 percent did not want to give the president four more years. Obama carried 40 percent against a nameless Republican foe who pulled 42 percent.

Nelson and newly inaugurated Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio earned solid marks -- with Nelson garnering 45 percent approval and 21 percent disapproval, and Rubio winning 42 percent approval and 20 percent disapproval.

But Nelson could face challenges in 2012 when he seeks a third term. The poll found 43 percent thought Nelson deserved a third term while 33 percent wanted him out of office. Nelson led an unknown Republican by 5 points, 41 percent to 36 percent.

Senator Bill Nelsons numbers are mixed, said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. Only one in five voters is unhappy with his job performance, which indicates he hasnt stirred up strong opposition. But history shows that when only 43 percent of voters say an incumbent deserves another term, that incumbent sometimes doesnt get another term.

Brown pointed to how Florida voters connected Nelson to Obama, noting that 46 percent of those surveyed believed Nelson and Obama had the same values, with only 17 percent thinking otherwise.

Senator Nelson is not in terrific shape but he is not in terrible shape either, said Brown. His fate may rest with how President Barack Obama does in 2012 as Florida voters see the two men similarly on the issues.

The poll showed that 44 percent of those surveyed thought Obama was too liberal, while 4 percent thought he was too conservative. The poll found that 43 percent thought Obamas political positions were about right.

While Floridians generally thought that Nelson was in the same political ballpark as Obama, not as many voters in the Sunshine State thought their senior senator was as liberal as the president. A plurality -- 44 percent -- saw Nelsons positions as about right while 23 percent thought he was too liberal and 7 percent thought he was too conservative.

A large field of Republicans are looking to take Nelson on come 2012. Possible candidates include former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, U.S. Rep. Dan Webster, Senate President Mike Haridopolos, former House Majority Leader Adam Hasner, businessman and former state Senate candidate Nick Loeb and businessman and former gubernatorial candidate Mike McCalister.

The poll also offered insight into where Floridians stood on the issues.

According to the poll, Floridians have soured on the war in Afghanistan, with only 38 percent believing the nation should remain in that troubled nation while 54 percent want the troops out. While independents and Democrats disapprove of the continued military action in Afghanistan, 59 percent of Florida Republicans continue to support it, against 33 percent who want to pull out.

Floridians generally back Republican efforts to repeal the health care law that Obama backed. The poll found 50 percent of those surveyed -- including 78 percent of Republicans and 52 percent of independents -- backed the repeal effort, while 43 percent opposed it.

The poll of 1,160 registered voters was takenJan. 25-31 and had a margin of error of +/- 2.9 percent.

Reach Kevin Derby at or at (850) 727-0859.

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