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The Right Stuff

A politics blog by Tom Jackson

Tom Jackson's baseball card - if he had one - would report he throws left, writes right. In his columns and blog, "The Right Stuff," southpaw Jackson provides insight into the evolving human condition from a distinctly conservative point of view.

Poll puts Scott in front; outlier or trend detector?

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Published:   |   Updated: April 8, 2014 at 12:16 AM

Regarding the first poll to find Rick Scott ahead of Charlie Crist in the race for governor, the lead on the column by the legendary Jim Murray on the morning after Kirk Gibson's outlandish walk-off homerun in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series applies:

“Well, you can believe that if you want to.”

This is not to denigrate the outfit – Voter Survey Service – that conducted the survey that put Scott a point ahead of Crist, 45-44, or the website – right-of-center Sunshine State News – for whom it was commissioned. It is simply to note that (a) the poll is the first to indicate any sort of lead for the Republican incumbent, who has trailed by substantial (if shrinking) margins in all previous polls and (b) the internals suggest a larger and wider swing faster than seems reasonable.

Then again, Crist, the probable Democratic nominee, has been getting pounded by TV commercials linking him to Obamacare – “I think it's been great” – and that, says VSS President James Lee, is a problem.

“According to Lee, the weight of Crist's support for President Barack Obama's signature health-care law continues to drag him down. The VSS poll revealed 51 percent of Florida voters would be less likely to cast a ballot for a candidate that supports Obamacare. Only 39 percent of respondents said they would vote for a candidate that supports the law.”

Moreover, VSS detects a breeze at Scott's back. Likely voters prefer him 49-42, and Republicans, Lee says, are favored to repeat their 6- to 8-point turnout advantage from 2010 in the fall of 2014.

Meanwhile, Florida's economy seems to be perking up and no one in the GOP-led Legislature is talking about making Scott swallow a budget that slashes popular programs. Given all that, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that VSS has been first to idenfity the leading edge of a trend. But any poll that reflects a sea change must be regarded skeptically. Not to mention, it's super early.

Then again, the hobbled Gibson did whack that 2-run tater.

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