The nasty battle for the GOP gubernatorial nomination in Florida between state Attorney General Bill McCollum
and former health care executive Rick Scott
has worked to the benefit of Democrat Alex Sink
in the latest general election match-ups, but that may change once Republicans settle on their candidate and Sink has to contend with an independent candidate who has a Democratic pedigree.
The independent is Lawton "Bud" Chiles
, son of Lawton Chiles
, who served as senator for 18 years and then another eight years as governor.
McCollum and Sink are statistically tied in a three-way race, with McCollum at 27 percent, Sink at 26 percent and Chiles drawing 14 percent, with 27 percent undecided. Chiles takes an equal amount of the Democratic and Republican vote, at 13 percent each, according to a Quinnipiac University poll
conducted July 22-27. While Sink's support has stayed about the same as it was in Quinnipiac's poll in early June, McCollum's has fallen from 33 percent -- clearly a result of the negative primary contest on the Republican side.
If Scott becomes the GOP nominee, he also leads Sink by a statistically insignificant margin, 29 percent to 27 percent. Chiles again gets 14 percent and draws 12 percent of the Republican vote and 14 percent of Democrats. As with McCollum, Scott's level of support has dropped compared to early June when it was 35 percent.
The margin of error is 3.2 points.
"When candidates throw mud at each other, they can't avoid being splattered also," said Quinnipiac's Peter Brown. "That is what has been happening and the beneficiary of the millions spent on negative ads [that] Attorney General Bill McCollum and Rick Scott have been airing at this point is state CFO Alex Sink. Whether that will remain the case once the Republican nomination is settled, we'll see. Chiles remains in the mid-teens, and a factor in the November election."
The number of voters who see McCollum unfavorably has gone up from 29 percent in June to 43 percent in the latest poll. Those regarding Scott unfavorably has increased from 22 percent to 30 percent during the same period.
For Sink, her problem is that 58 percent of voters still don't know enough about her to express an opinion. For now, that is also true of 73 percent of voters when it comes to Chiles.
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