Poll: McCollum And Meek Lead Self-Funding Challengers In Florida

August 18, 2010 5:15 a.m.

A new Qunnipiac poll shows the wealthy self-funding candidates who had pulled ahead in the Florida primaries for governor and U.S. Senate may be seeing their time in the spotlight coming to an end.

According to the new numbers, the establishment choices in the GOP gubernatorial primary and the Democratic primary for Senate are on top, while the wealthy men who have spent millions to defeat them now find themselves in second place. In the Senate race, Rep. Kendrick Meek is ahead of billionaire investor Jeff Greene 35-28, according to the Q poll. In the Republican gubernatorial fight, state attorney general Bill McCollum now leads former hospital executive Rick Scott 44-35.

Those numbers mark big shifts from the last Quinnipiac poll from late July, when Greene led Meek 33-23, and Scott led McCollum 43-32.

With just days to go before the August 24 primary elections, the poll suggests the establishment picks in the two vicious primary battles may finally be able to relax a bit after weeks of running behind their upstart challengers. But as the pollster writes in the Quinnipiac release today, there’s still plenty of mystery left in the contests, despite the new numbers.“[T]he races remain volatile as 19 percent of Republican voters remain undecided and 32 percent of those who do name a candidate say they could change their mind,” the release reads. “Among Democrats, 29 percent are undecided and 39 percent of those who name a candidate could change their mind.”

Pollster Peter Brown attributes the good news in the poll for Meek and McCollum to stepped-up campaigning by prominent establishment figures. Meek is expected to make a public appearance with President Obama this week, and he’s enjoyed more help from President Clinton in recent days. McCollum, meanwhile, has been on the trail with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who remains very popular with Republican voters in the state.

“The empire strikes back, actually both empires, that is, the folks who run the Democratic and Republican parties in Florida have waded into the nomination fights and they are making a difference,” Brown said.

The TPM Poll Average shows McCollum leading Scott 39.7-36.0. The TPM Poll Average shows Meek leading Greene and former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre 37.6-28.2-6.0.

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