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.”
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.