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Jax Daily Record Friday, Dec. 30, 201112:00 PM EST

Mack easily leads GOP field in Senate poll

by: Brandon Larrabee The News Service of Florida

U.S. Rep. Connie Mack has a strong lead on his competitors for the GOP nomination to take on Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, according to a new poll by TelOpinion Research.

The survey of 780 Republican voters, conducted from Dec. 15-19, shows Mack, the son of a former senator and grandson of a famous baseball manager, carrying 39 percent of the vote, far outpacing the rest of the field.

Former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, tea party favorite Mike McCalister and former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner all trailed in single-digits.

Former steakhouse executive Craig Miller, who was not included in the poll, has long been stuck in single-digits in other polls.

“Mack owns this at the moment, and it is his to lose,” said Bill Lee, a Republican pollster who co-founded TelOpinion and polled contested primary states for U.S. Sen. John McCain’s presidential bid in 2008. Lee’s firm is not working for any of the candidates or so-called Super PACs this cycle.

LeMieux had the largest share of the votes among the three contenders other than Mack included in the poll, with 6 percent.

McCalister, who had shown some strength in earlier surveys, was at 5 percent. Despite winning a straw poll of statewide conservative activists earlier this year in Orlando, Hasner draws just 1 percent of the vote in the latest poll.

Mack’s support is strong across the board. He has 48 percent of the vote among tea party supporters and 38 percent among those who don’t consider themselves members of the movement.

Mack would get votes from Republicans across the ideological spectrum, from those who consider themselves “liberal” to those who consider themselves “very conservative,” according to the poll.

While LeMieux cracks double-digits in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale media market with 12 percent, Mack dominates the rest of the state, including receiving the support of 65 percent of the voters in his home media market of Fort Myers-Naples.

The poll also shows that a strong plurality of Republicans have yet to make up their mind about the race. Of those surveyed, 49 percent said they weren’t sure which candidate they would back in the primary. The poll has a margin of error of 3.2 percentage points.

“This is essentially a contest based on name ID at this point,” Lee said.

The poll largely mirrors an earlier survey by Quinnipiac University, which found Mack with 32 percent of the vote in the primary, with the other candidates all trailing in single-digits.

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